American Black Bear

Ursus americanus
The American black bear is the smallest of the three bears species found in North America, and are found only in North America. Black bears have short, non- retractable claws that give them an excellent tree- climbing ability. They tend to be solitary animals, with the exception of mothers and cubs. The bears usually forage alone but will tolerate each other and forage in groups if there is an abundance of food in one area.

They hibernate depending on local weather conditions and availability of food during the winter months. Black bear fur is usually a uniform color except for a brown muzzle and light markings that sometimes appear on their chests. Eastern populations are usually black in color while western populations often show brown, cinnamon, and blond coloration in addition to black. Black bears with white-bluish fur are known as Kermode or Spirit bears and these unique color phases are only found in coastal British Columbia, Canada.

It is estimated that there are at least 600,000 black bears in North America. In the United States, there are estimated to be over 300,000 individuals. However, the Louisiana black bear (Ursus americanus luteolu) and Florida black bear (Ursus americanus floridanus) are unique subspecies with small populations. The Louisiana black bear is federally listed as a threatened species and the Florida black bear is estimated to number 3,000.

Black bears are extremely adaptable and show a great variation in habitat types, though they are primarily found in forested areas with thick ground vegetation and an abundance of fruits, nuts, and vegetation.

DIET

American black bears are omnivorous: plants, fruits, nuts, insects, honey, salmon, small mammals, and carrion. In northern regions, they eat spawning salmon. Black bears will also occasionally kill young deer or moose calves.

FAST FACTS

Size: 5 – 6.5 feet
Weight: 300-600
Lifespan: Average lifespan is around ten years, though black bears can live upward of 30 years on occasion.

CONSERVATION STATUS

LEAST CONCERNED