October 21, 2009
- Family Fun
- Upcoming DEC Events
- Hudson Valley - Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center
- Capital District - Five Rivers Environmental Education Center and Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center
- Adirondacks - Adirondack Park Agency Visitors Interpretive Centers at Newcomb and Paul Smiths
- Central New York - Rogers Environmental Education Center
- Western New York - Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center
New York State is home to about 7,000 black bears, one of the largest populations in the eastern United States. Black bears are typically found in large forests, but they are very adaptable and can use small woodlots and developed areas. They are very smart and curious and spend a great deal of their time exploring for food. Adult bears are good travelers-males may travel up to 100 miles in search of food or a mate. The state's second largest land mammal (moose are first), males weigh an average of 300 pounds and females average 160 pounds. Most people think black bears are all black, but they can be brown or cinnamon colored.
Black bears are mostly vegetarians, eating a large amount of small items such as skunk cabbage, grasses, berries, fruits and insects. They are known to eat whatever is available. But when bears learn to get food from people, like garbage and bird seed, they form habits that are bad for the bear and bad for people. The number of black bears has increased and they are found in more areas of New York State than in the past. Hunting is the primary management tool to control the bear population, and bear hunting is permitted in the fall throughout portions of northern, southeastern and central-western New York.
During the winter, black bears find a den and sleep away the cold months when food is scarce. A den can be a crevice between or under boulders, a hollow tree or log or under roots or a brush pile. Unlike a true hibernator that lowers its body temperature, black bears keep their normal body temperature so that they can quickly react to being disturbed. Except for newborn cubs, bears do not eat, drink, urinate or defecate during the denning period.
DEC's website has more information about black bears (pdf - 245Kb).
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What is That Smell?
Black bears have okay vision, better hearing, and an incredibly keen sense of smell. They can even locate food from as far away as one mile, just by using their nose. Check out your sense of smell in this scent game. Have an adult find a variety of strong smelling objects such as ginger, chocolate, perfume on a cotton ball, orange peel, basil and dried leaves. The adult should place each object in an empty container (old film canisters work great). Now, with your eyes closed take a whiff of each object and try to guess what it is. Any number of people can play this game, as long as you have enough smelly stuff to keep them guessing.
Keep It Down!
Bears are secretive creatures that try to avoid people. They often know that you are coming long before you get there, not only because they smell you, but also because they can hear you.
Our neighborhoods are filled with sound-some much that we often don't notice it. Take a walk around your neighborhood or sit in your yard and identify the sounds around you (make sure you have a notebook to write them all down). The sounds of birds and other animals are pleasant sounds, but are there any noises that are too loud? Leaf blowers and lawn mowers are perfect examples of excess noise, called noise pollution. After you conduct this noise experiment, try to think of ways that you and your neighbors can cut down on the noise level where you live.
Read Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Nature Discovery After-School Programs
4:00 to 5:00 PM, each Thursday from September 3 through November 19
Attention kids of all ages! Bring a parent or other adult and discover the outdoors at Stony Kill together.
11:00 AM to 1:00 PM each Saturday during September and October
Come meet the livestock-cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens and turkeys-up close.
Leave it to Beavers
Saturday, October 24 at 2:00 PM
Explore our Sierra Pond and learn about the beaver's fascinating life cycle and survival adaptations and the web of life they help to create in ponds.
Spiders, Snakes and Bats
Saturday, October 31 at 2:00 PM
This Halloween, join us before trick-or-treating for a closer look at these often misunderstood and under appreciated creatures.
Halloween Open House
Saturday, October 31 from 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Bats and spiders and bugs! A family-oriented exploration of the nature of Halloween. Come see and touch (if you dare) skeletons and skulls; meet live reptiles and amphibians.
Discover the Pine Bush for Families
Sunday, October 25 from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM
Come join us on a fun journey to discover the Albany Pine Bush Preserve, the best example of an inland pine barrens. Cost: $2 per person, $5 per family. Call 518-456-0655 to register.
Adirondack Park Agency Newcomb Visitors Center
Family Pumpkin Carving
Saturday, October 24 from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Bring your pumpkins, large or small, and deck them out for Halloween. We'll provide the patterns, the knives, the scoops and the laughs. Call 518-582-2000 to register.
Adirondack Park Agency Paul Smiths Visitors Center
Saturday, October 31 from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Interested in knowing how severe the winter will be? Nature has many forecasters for the upcoming winter. Join a naturalist as we look at the predictions of both plants and animals. Call 518-327-3000 to register.
Animals of Halloween
Friday, October 23 at 6:30 PM
Learn about nature and celebrate a fun holiday with the Rogers staff. Walk our trails and meet huge, friendly creatures that sing and dance for you. We will also have a campfire with storytelling and refreshments. Dress to be outside. Call 607-674-4017 to register.
Saturday, October 31 at 11:00 AM
Spiders, bats, snakes…many people dislike or are scared of these animals. Before you head out for trick-or-treating, gain a better appreciation for these creatures by having fun and learning about them. Meet at the Visitors Center. Call 607-674-4017 to register.
Advance registration is required. Call 716-683-5959.
Saturday, October 31 at 10:30 AM
Come have fun learning about spiders, bats and owls through activities and crafts. For children ages 4 to 8.
Full Beaver Moon Walk
Monday, November 2 at 6:00 PM
Enjoy a moonlit walk and learn about our resident beavers. Bring binoculars if you have them.