Black bear

Species profile

Name: the black bear (Ursus americanus) – or American black bear – is a medium-sized bear native to North America.

Appearance: despite their name, black bears come in a variety of colours – from white, blonde, cinnamon, and light brown, to dark chocolate brown and jet black. They can be distinguished from brown bears by their smaller size, shorter claws, and the lack of a hump on their shoulders.

Size: adults weigh up to 250 kg – with their weight increasing by up to 30% in autumn as they fatten themselves up for hibernation. The largest ever recorded weighed over 500 kg and reached 2.4 m long.

Diet: black bears are omnivores eating a wide range of foods. Around 85% of their diet is vegetation and includes roots, bulbs, fruits, nuts, and grasses. They also eat insects, carrion, honey, salmon, and young deer.

Did you know: black bears feature extensively in the stories of America’s indigenous peoples. One tale tells of how the black bear was a creation of the Great Spirit, while the grizzly bear was created by the Evil Spirit. Other stories tell that mankind first learned to respect bears when a girl married the son of a black bear chieftain. More recently, the inventor of the teddy bear, was inspired to make the toy when they came across a cartoon of Theodore Roosevelt refusing to shoot an American black bear cub tied to a tree!

Location: black bears used to occupy the majority of North America’s forested regions. Today, they are primarily limited to sparsely settled, forested areas. In Canada, they can still be found across much of their historic range, with a population of around 400,000 to 480,000 bears.

Where to see Black bears

According to reports submitted to WildSide, you can see black bears in the following places:

Place Chance to see User rating No. reports
United States
very good

Photo credit: skeeze under a Creative Commons licence from Pixabay

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