A black bear has been captured taking a quick back scratch before heading off into the wilds of Washington State for winter hibernation. The somewhat rotund beast was spotted by wildlife biologist Scott Fitkin who monitors a trail camera for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The department shared the footage on its Facebook page which shows a larger-than-the-average bear lumber over to a tree where he rises on his haunches for a satisfying back rub. The bear then wanders off into the dark forest, in the Okanogan district north-west of Seattle near the Canadian border.
The American black bear is the smallest species native to the US and Canada and is the most common. It is one of two, along with the brown or "grizzly" bear, of eight species not to be considered at risk of extinction.
There are a number of sub-species of black bear, native to different parts of the continent. Though the less mild-mannered grizzly can also be found in Washington State, the chances of running into one are pretty rare, according to the Washington Trails Association (WTA).
Despite their reputation, bear attacks are relatively uncommon and according to the North American Bear Center website, less than one person is killed by a bear per year in the U.S. The website says that there have only been 61 fatalities associated with bear attacks since 1900, in fact.
According to the WTA, a black bear won't usually exhibit aggressive behaviour unless it is defending its food or its young, but you can usually tell how a bear is feeling from its general demeanour. This bear in particular, looks pretty content.
Black bears, which contrary to their name can be cinnamon in colour or even white, go into hibernation in October-November time. They will remain in their dens for three to eight months, depending on the climate.