A tour guide at Yellowstone National Park managed to capture the very special moment a black bear cub emerged from its den for the first time this week. Andrea Baratte, who works for Yellowstone Adventure Tours, watched as the mother bear left the den for about 10 minutes, with the youngster following close behind.
Baratte is a qualified wildlife biologist, and worked as a mountain lion tracker in western Montana before becoming a guide at Yellowstone. Sharing the video on Instagram, he explained that the bears' den was close to the road, and the animals weren't disturbed by his presence.
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Black bears give birth in mid-winter, between January and early February. Newborns are tiny and hairless, weighing less than half a pound, but grow to around five pounds by the time they and their mother are ready to emerge in spring. It's not clear whether there were other cubs in this particular den, but black bears typically give birth to between one and three cubs in a litter.
The National Park Service (NPS) explains that cubs grow very quickly, and can reach 80lb by their first birthday. They stay with their mother for around 18 months, until she is ready to mate again.
Bear encounters at Yellowstone
Black bears are common in Yellowstone, and the animals can be spotted throughout the park – from the backcountry to the boardwalks. The NPS warns visitors to stay at least 100 yards from bears at all times, and never feed them. Bears that are fed can become habituated, increasing the odds of close encounters with people.
If you spot a bear, but it hasn't seen you, the NPS recommends staying out of sight, and taking a detour as far away, and downwind of it as possible. Don't approach it. If it stands up on its hind legs, it is probably curious. If it notices you, stay calm and don't run. Instead, back away to give it space. For more advice, see our guides what to do if you meet a bear and how to use bear spray.
Attacks on humans are very rare, and more people have died from burns sustained in Yellowstone's geothermal water features than from incidents involving bears. That said, make sure you read the latest advice on bear activity at the park before heading out camping and hiking.
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.