Black bears (Ursus americanus) are 5 to 6 feet long (nose to rump), typically stand 2.5 to 3 feet at the shoulder, and weigh 100 to 400 lbs. Body color ranges from dark brown to black with a light brown or tan muzzle.
Black bears generally pose little threat to humans, their property or pets. Black bears are naturally shy animals and not known for aggressive behavior. Black bear sightings in Fairfax County are not common.
Black bears are primarily active at dusk and dawn. Black bears in urban areas become primarily active at night.
Black bears breed in June or July and females breed only every other year. “Delayed implantation” occurs and female bears do not become pregnant until November or December. Gestation is 7 to 8 weeks.
Black bears establish dens in large hollow trees, brush piles, or upturned tree roots. Black bears hibernate early November through March or April, depending on food availability. Young bears become independent the following spring.
Black bears are omnivorous. A natural diet includes fruits, berries, plants, nuts, insects, small mammals and fawns. A modified diet can include farm crops, gardens, small livestock, beehives, bird feeder seeds, pet food and garbage.
Black bears inhabit wetlands, woodlands, suburban and urban areas of Fairfax County.
More information on black bears in Virginia can be found at https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/bear/.
For information on managing wildlife interactions and resolving human-wildlife conflicts, the Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline is available toll-free at (855) 571-9003, 8:00AM-4:30PM, Monday through Friday.This helpline is a collaborative effort between the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Wildlife Services.