Around how small is a "small guy" in bear terms?
Well, the state record bear was skinned out at 632 pounds and weighed an estimated 746 pounds alive. It was taken in the 2005 NJ Bear Hunt. Black bears (Ursus americanus
) can weigh between 90 (female) to 150 (males) pounds as cubs/first year adults, and upwards of 450 pounds (female) and 700 pounds (male) as full grown adults. The largest bear on record in North America is 880 lbs, a male, harvested in North Carolina.
Any bear weighing less than 250 lbs. in NJ is generally considered a small bear, and the majority of bears that tend to rummage through garbage cans and back yards tend to be newly independent cubs or first-year adults with little experience with humans or dogs. Or they are bears that grew up in suburbia, so to speak, and are used to foraging in trash cans, mulch piles, gardens, and back-yard barbecues for food; all habits they learned from their mother who, no doubt, grew up living close to people.
New Jersey is experiencing some difficulty of late with its bear population, and I expect that as spring progresses the difficulty will only escalate. Bears are becoming used to living in proximity to humans, and are relying on garbage cans and gardens to fortify their diets. As bear/human interactions begin to rise in occurrence, the usual course of action is to remove the bears to protect the people. I am not against this action in general. But one fundamental rule of living in proximity to bears is this: "a fed bear is a dead bear."
When a bear knows it can consistently find food in a certain area, it will prowl constantly in search of said food. If food becomes unavailable, the bear will be persistent to the point of violence before it moves on to find another food source.
Sorry to digress. Wildlife is a hobby...