Lesson Four: It’s a Bear’s Life

FWClogoSmallLike many other animals, Florida black bears pass through a distinct series of stages during their life cycle. Their activities, behaviors, and challenges differ at each stage.  In addition, the lives of male and female black bears are very different.  For adult females, the most important activities in adulthood are successfully mating and rearing litters of young (cubs).  For adult males, the most important activities in adulthood are successfully mating and establishing a home range. Male bears do not participate in the rearing of young, and in fact, have been known to kill and even eat young cubs and yearlings.  Male bears live a solitary life and only interact with the female bears during the summer mating season.

Lesson 4_Female w Cub_CandieHoward

Photo courtesy of Candie Howard

Female bears also establish home ranges, but they are generally much smaller than those of males and are often located near their mothers. Some Florida black bears den for at least a few weeks in the winter, usually in December, January, or February.  Although black bears do not eat, urinate, or defecate during their winter sleep, they are not truly hibernating.  They sometimes wake up for brief periods, get up and move around, forage for food and then go back to their dens.  Female bears with cubs den for a much longer period than male bears or females without cubs.

Lesson 4_USFWS

Photo courtesy of USFWS

A Florida black bear’s life can be divided into four stages: cub, yearling, young adult, and mature adult.

The video below presents more background on the life and characteristics of black bears.

In this Lesson Four: It’s a Bear’s Life, students will learn to identify the stages of a bear’s life, theLesson 4_thumb significant events that occur during each stage, how that varies between males and females, and how a bear’s life compares with a humans.

Lesson Summary:

Key Question: What is the life of a Florida black bear like?

Main Topic: Life histories and life cycles of male and female Florida black bears

Format: Board game

Description: Students play a pathway board game to learn about the significant events affecting Florida black bears at each stage in their life cycle.  They also compare and contrast the life histories of male and female Florida black bears.

Common Core Standards: Coming Soon

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