Black Bear Habitat, Facts

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Black Bear Facts

Smaller than the brown bears but more widespread in their native North America are the American black bears, which range from Mexico to Alaska and from the mountains of California to the swamps of Florida and the forests of Maine.

A familiar tourist attraction in many national parks, black bears come in as many color variations as their more aggressive brown cousins. In the West black bears are often cinnamon-colored; an Alaskan variety called the glacier bear is silvery blue; the Kermode, living on Gribble Island off the coast of British Columbia, can be pure white.

American Black Bear

American black bear (scientific name: Ursus americanus) is the most common bear in North America.

Though most people assume that the black bear is found primarily in the remnant wilderness of the eastern United States, the animal is in fact one of the most widely distributed large mammals in North America. It has adapted to widely differing habitats and ranges from Alaska to Florida, though it favors forested regions where it can feed on and take refuge in trees.

Black Bears Habitat Facts in North America

Black bears have been living in North America as a distinct species for at least 2.5 million years and during this time black bears have colonized a wide range of habitats and have had time to adapt to local conditions.
Black Bears avoided grizzlies, animals that recently evolved in open habitats, by staying in the forest. Only in Northern Labrador, where there are no grizzly bears, do black bears now inhabit the open tundra (American black bear map picture below).

North American Black Bear


American Black Bear Facts

Contrary to popular belief, black bears have both a good sense of smell and good eyesight.

Despite the fact that their lumbering gait (a result of having hind legs longer than forelimbs) gives them an awkward appearance, they are extremely intelligent.

Black bear are found in variety of colors and there are 16 currently recognized subspecies, which is considered threatened. As a whole, though, the species is increasing in numbers after reaching a low point caused by human persecution.

Black bears caught poaching outside a national wildlife refuge in Georgia, according to one refuge manager, show real sagacity. Although many people do not regard black bear as a dangerous animal, they can unquestionably kill human beings as readily as their grizzly cousins.
(black bear cubs pictures)
The black bears seeming lack of aggression, scientists have theorized, may be connected with their forested habitat.

Black bears having adapted to trees and thick mountain foliage, learned to take advantage of vegetation as an escape. They feed primarily on plants although in some areas they prey on mammals such as deer fawns or moose calves and in others they rely on salmon.

However, a wounded or cornered black bear or one whose cubs might be endangered can be a fearsome spectacle. As large as many grizzlies, at a top weight of 273 kilogram and with cinnamon and dark-brown colorings that frequently occur among black bears, blacks are occasion-substantial.

The black bear head is smaller and narrower and is held up higher as the animal ambles along. Blacks also lack the shoulder hump of the grizzlies and have shorter, more curved claws that are razor-sharp to make tree-climbing swift and efficient.

American black bear cubs wrestle and climb as they play and these activities develop the skills they will need to survive. Cubs learn to climb at an early age and their mother sends them up trees while she feeds, or when danger may be present.

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Black Bear Pictures

Black bear Hunting & Protection

Although humans are the only threat to black bears (unfortunately, because many take black bear hunting as a very popular hobby/sport), there are more than enough populations of them, and are not considered to be threatened or endangered. However, their range has been greatly reduced as humans have expanded and black bear hunts increase

Black Bear Habitat

Today, the American black bear is hunted illegally to provide furs and for the Asian market where its legs have a medicinal value in China, in Japan and in Korea. While the black bears are abundant in the west of the United States, some Eastern populations are increasingly rare and in the process of disappearing.

Two subspecies were found in south-east of the United States: the black bear of Louisiana and the black bear of Florida, but these are now almost extinct. The American black bear is protected by law in the states concerned (Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas).

Optimal Black Bear Habitat

Optimal black bear habitat is found where the terrain is rugged and difficult for humans to gain access. Not only humans but also low food availability can cause populations to decline, but the main reason today for populations reducing is humans.

This not only applies to black bears, but to all native bear species that are under threat due to human hunting and population expansion leading to invasion of the bear habitat.
American Black Bear Facts
  • Black Bear Name: American Black Bear (Ursus americanus)
  • Black Bear Scientific Name: Ursus americanus
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Vertebrata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Subclass: Theria
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Ursidae
  • Age at Maturity: 4 to 5 years black bear males, 3 to 4 years black bear females
  • Length of life: 20 - 25 years in the wild.
  • Size: 130 to 190 cm
  • Weight: 60 to 300 kg black bear males
    40 to 80 kg black bear females
  • Habitat: Forest
  • Diet: Nuts, berries, insect, grasses, roots and other vegatation, young deer and moose calven, spawning salmon.
  • Gestation: 6 to 8 months
  • Cubs: 1 to 5 cubs, average 2
  • SubFamily: Ursinae
  • Genus: Ursus
  • Black Bear Predators: human, brown bears, Cougar, wolves
  • Distribution: Throughout North America and Canada, northern Mexico
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