Joe Yuele took this photo in Bear Valley Springs of a young American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) visiting a small pool that the Yueles keep available for wildlife. Joe says that he and his wife believe this is the same bear that visited last year with its mother as a young cub, when they ate some bird seed from a feeder. Photos from that encounter appeared in Natural Sightings.

Black bears are permanent, year-round residents of the Tehachapi Mountains, but they are most likely to be seen in the warmer, drier months. These bears are likely to be the subspecies known as California Black Bears (Ursus americanus californiensis) and some individuals are light brown, cinnamon or even blonde in coloration, while Eastern Black Bears tend to have shiny, coal black fur. California Black Bears often have a white blaze on their chests.

Black bears tend to prefer areas with larger trees that are more forested or wooded, providing them with tall trees to climb when they feel threatened. This behavior probably originated when Black Bears coexisted with larger, more aggressive bear species like the now extinct California Grizzly, which was once found in the Tehachapi Mountains in large numbers. It is grizzlies that provided the name Bear Valley and Bear Mountain.

Despite this preference for habitat with large trees, Black Bears are also commonly found in areas with smaller trees like Pinyon Pine and California Juniper, and in the past century the Sand Canyon area has consistently provided the most bear sightings in the Tehachapi area.

The Nüwa (Kawaiisu or Paiute) word for Black Bear is Odokid Mo'orizh, pronounced oh-DOH-kid moh'oh-reez.

Natural Sightings is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News, edited by Jon Hammond, which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to editorial@tehachapinews.com.