Wildlife

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our office is open 9AM-5PM M-F

703-246-6868
TTY 711

4500 West Ox Road
Fairfax, VA 22030

Dr. Katherine Edwards,
Wildlife Management Specialist

Department Resources


Black Bear

Appearance

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.

Behavior

Black bears generally pose little threat to humans, their property or pets. Black bears are naturally shy animals and not known for aggressive behavior. While bears are not commonly encountered in Fairfax County, multiple bear sightings are reported in the county each spring and summer as bears wander into residential areas in search for food.

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.

Diet

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.

Habitat

Black bears inhabit wetlands, woodlands, suburban and urban areas of Fairfax County.

Reporting Bear Sightings

Bear sightings should be reported to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries through the Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline at (855) 571-9003, TTY 711. Unless the animal is sick or injured, or poses a threat to public safety, the Fairfax County Animal Protection Police do not take actions to remove bears from a neighborhood. The Fairfax County Animal Protection Police can be reached through the police non-emergency number at 703-691-2131.

(More species information)

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.

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