In the video below, five black bear cubs quickly scale a tree to avoid a confrontation with a wandering male. Cubs learn how to climb trees beginning at about eight weeks and will retain the skill for the rest of their lives. Trees offer more than a temporary sanctuary for black bears—they are a source of food, a vantage point, a safe bed, and a message board.
Black bears are excellent climbers. Their powerful hind legs and innate balance means that even large bears are able to scale trees, making it inadvisable to seek cover in one during a bear attack.
Bear cubs will take readily to climbing if they sense danger, and the mother will generally stand guard nearby. A mother bear is at her most dangerous when her cubs are threatened.