Breeding of the Great Smoky Mountains Black Bears

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The American Black Bear Breeding

In July, male black bears, known as boars, scent mark their territory in the Great Smoky Mountains. This they do by black bear cub rubbing and scratching their scent glands against trees. This communication is an invitation to female bears in search of a mate. Female bears are called sows, and begin searching for mates at three to five years old. Once in heat, they will mate with more than one partner for a period of two to three weeks. Each of her male companions will do the same.

The older female Black Bear comes into heat only after her cubs are old enough to be out on their own. Once mating reoccurs, her fertilized eggs do not implant themselves in her womb until late fall as hibernation season nears. This process of fertilization and implantation is called delayed implantation. After delayed implantation, the embryos attach themselves to the mother bears womb and development continues through much of her hibernation period. Two hundred twenty days after conception the bear cubs are born while the mother is still hibernating.

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