Black Bears in Nevada County

This post was written by jd on October 25, 2009
Posted Under: animals,Environment,Nevada County Information
American Black Bear

American Black Bear

Coming home late from the office the other night, late enough that it was pitch dark, I saw a black bear crossing Banner Mountain Quaker road.  Fortunately, I was driving slowly so I did not hit the bear and I got a good look at him. What a beautiful animal, big, with huge feet.  From the back, other than its feet, it looked like a giant long haired black dog.

Black bears are fairly common in Nevada County and every once in a while they get a little ornery. One of my neighbors had his garbage can pilfered several times, dumping garbage all over the road. So he thought well, I’ll just strap the cover down and the bear will not be able to get into the garbage can. The next morning, he found his garbage can down the side of the mountain with big claw marks on the can. The solution was to put the garbage out first thing in the morning instead of the night before garbage was to be picked up.

The American Black Bears are from 5-6 feet in length and about 2.5 to 3 foot tall. They can stand as high as 7 tall which would be enough to scare anyone away. They can weigh as much 600 pounds for the male and about 400 pounds for the female. There have been reports of a male bear that weighed 880 pounds, but that is unusual.

Most of the time, they are as scared of you as you might be scared of them, so they tend to run when approached by humans.  However, be careful if you come across of a female with cubs, then it is different story. They’re out to protect their cubs at which point they can become aggressive.  If it’s any consolation, there are only 56 documented cases of black bears killing humans in the United States in the last 100 years.


According to Wikipedia

“The cubs are generally born in January or February. They are very small, about 283 to 397 grams (10 to 14 oz), and are blind, nearly hairless, and helpless when born. Two to three cubs are most common, though up to four and even five cubs have been documented. First-time mothers typically have only a single cub. The mother nurses the cubs with rich milk, and by spring thaw, when the bears start leaving their dens, the cubs are fur-balls of energy, inquisitive and playful. By this time, they are about 2 to 4 kilograms (4 to 8 lb). When their mother senses danger, she grunts to the cubs to climb high up a tree. They are weaned between July and September of their first year and stay with the mother through the first winter. The cubs become independent during their second summer (when they are 1.5 years old). At this time, the sow goes into estrus again.

Cub survival is totally dependent on the skill of the mother in teaching her cubs what and where to eat, how to forage, where to den, and when and where to seek shelter from heat or danger.”

There have been numerous sightings of black bears in the Cascade Shores Subdivision, in which I live.  I had one standing on the road in front of my house last year during the night. Have you seen any black bears around your house or had some experience with them?

Reader Comments

I came face to face with a black bear in front of our house on Banner Mtn near the fire station. The bear was on all fours 6 feet away from me where I stood in the garage door way when we saw each other suddenly. I’m 6’2″ 220lbs and if I was on all fours he was 20% larger and 300% heavier so I believe he’s male. We looked, stunned, at each other for what seemed to be a few minutes but was probably a fraction of a second before he bounded away from me into the trees on our property. He made lots of crunching noise, it seems he climbed or tried to climb a couple trees from claw marks I saw this morning. Needless to say I didn’t venture into the dark last night to see where he went from there. ;-) Members of my family has lived in this house since 1975 and this is the first bear sighting ever. I didn’t think it possible let alone a bear of this size. Thank God he didn’t stand up – all I could think of was that scene from the Great Outdoors with John Candy… Big Bear, Big Bear Chase Me…

Written By Anonymous on July 13th, 2010 @ 4:50 PM

i think the bears should be put some where to where they dont get harmed in any way

Written By Anonymous on October 6th, 2010 @ 9:41 AM

I’m embarrassed to admit this but, as a lifelong city dweller who moved to your area 2 months ago, I’m really freaking out about bears. Earlier this week, we found our trash can 20′ up a hill. Our dog had been barking all the time and on 2 separate occasions my friend and I swore we heard a ‘snort’ coming out of the woods. THEN we found the real evidence of big tracks in the snow (on our back patio). I have never had to worry about anything like this and I’m feeling like I’m Eva Gabore on Green Acres – totally out of my element. I’ve heard advice from so many sources, things like ‘don’t leave your windows open’ ‘don’t leave anything scented outside’ ‘don’t let your pets outside’ etc. It’s enough to send me over the edge. Any comments? Please don’t tell me to go back where I came from. My husband is Eddie Albert and likes it here. I need practical information. Help.

Written By Anonymous on January 6th, 2011 @ 4:30 PM

I am more concerned about my domestic animals, cats and dogs in terms of Coyote’s. I try to keep my cats inside, but they want and need to go out. I feed them at night now, so if they are out, the come home for dinner and then they are inside for the night.

We are fenced now, so I do let my dogs out.

We have bears in our area, however, I have never seen one, only heard about them.

Written By Anonymous on February 24th, 2011 @ 1:09 PM

There is a bear living in the Lake Vera area.
He digs in garbage cans, never hurts anyone.
Camp Augusta, and Camp Del Oro, just got the tags, and the ok to KILL the bear….
My family has lived in the area for years, and campers from out of the area, are the reason a bear is going to be SHOT…….WHAT IS WRONG HERE?
THIS IS THAT BEARS HOME!!!!!!! Cant find anyone to stop them. Perhaps this will Help. J.Bell

Written By Anonymous on July 12th, 2011 @ 9:01 AM

We have a bear in Rough and Ready. We found that ammonia in each trash before putting in can, keeps them out of it!

Written By Anonymous on July 22nd, 2011 @ 9:17 PM

we have had a bear visiting on going for the past couple of weeks i have of course got rid of all garbage but it keeps coming around almost every night 11:00 pm-1:00 am-our little daschunds go crazy barking-we live off of dog bar before la bar meadows rd i have called the biologist for our county-mrs. holmes, no return call yet

Written By Anonymous on January 3rd, 2013 @ 8:02 PM