Black Bear, By James A. Galletto, Islip, New York, USA

Black Bear

Ursus americanus

Learn more about Ursus americanus from the Encyclopedia of Life

Encyclopedia of Life

Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary,
Orr, Minnesota, USA
By James A. Galletto
Islip, New York, USA

James A. Galletto

North American black bears are known to communicate using a keen sense of smell, body and facial expressions, sounds, and touch. Males mark the boundaries of their territory by scent-marking trees— scraping, biting, and pulling off strips of bark from trees such as fir, spruce, and pine. The higher the marks, the larger the bear—warning other males to keep away. Often used as scratching posts, the same tree may be revisited for years. Scientists theorize that tree marking may also be part of their mating ritual.

“This bear had repeatedly scent-marked a particular tree, so I positioned myself nearby and waited. It was just a matter of time before he appeared and commenced marking and scratching his back. This grand pose with his arms outstretched struck me as humorous— it looked as if he were a circus ringmaster commanding attention with ‘Ladies and Gentlemen!’” —JG

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III; 500mm ƒ/4 IS lens; 1/640 sec at ƒ/5.6; ISO 1600; Gitzo tripod and leveling head; Arca-Swiss B1 ballhead; Wimberley sidekick.