How do black bears respond to ticks?

The only ticks found on black bears in northeastern Minnesota are dog ticks, also known as wood ticks (Dermacentor variabilis), and rarely winter ticks (D. albipictis).

Dog ticks are found on bears from early spring to mid August. Single winter ticks have been found on a couple bears in dens. Neither of these ticks carries Lyme disease. Black bears remove dog ticks by scratching with their claws or by rubbing on objects.

Within family groups, mothers and cubs groom each other using their incisors to delicately remove ticks and using their molars to crush engorged ticks before swallowing them.

After family breakup, tick infestations increase without family members to remove them.


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