American Black Bear

American Black Bear

Black bear

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Suborder
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Ursus americanus
Population size
850-950 Thou
Life Span
10-30 yrs
TOP SPEED
48 km/h
WEIGHT
100-270 kg
HEIGHT
1.3-1.8 m
LENGTH
1200.0-2000.

Black bears are endemic to North America. They are the continent's smallest and most widely distributed bear species. They can be black but are also different colors, ranging from brown or dark red to a light tan, depending on where they live. Their fur is short and thick and covers all of their heavily built bodies. Black bears have small eyes and a pointed muzzle, and their ears are larger and more pointed than those of their brown bear relatives. They have short legs, and their claws enable them to get away from danger by digging into a tree trunk so the bear can pull himself up. The Black bear, like all bears, has a very good sense of smell, put to good use to detect food. Its hearing and sight are not so well developed, as its ears and eyes are relatively small.

No

Nocturnal

Cr

Crepuscular

Om

Omnivore

Sc

Scavenger

Te

Terrestrial

Al

Altricial

No

Nomadic

Te

Territorial

Vi

Viviparous

Ar

Arboreal

Po

Polygyny

So

Solitary

Do

Dominance hierarchy

Hi

Hibernating

No

Not a migrant

A

starts with

U.

U.S. States Animals
(collection)

Distribution

Geography

Continents
Biogeographical realms

Historically, American black bears occupied the majority of North America's forested regions. Their current range in the United States is constant throughout most of the Northeast and within the Appalachian Mountains almost continuously from Maine to northern Georgia, the northern Midwest, the Rocky Mountain region, the West Coast, and Alaska. American black bears today are usually found in heavily vegetated mountainous areas. They can be found in stands of chaparral and pinyon-juniper woods, oak-hickory and mixed mesophytic forests, fields of brush, wet and dry meadows, high tidelands, riparian areas, roadsides, burns, sidehill parks, and subalpine ridgetops. In the coastal areas of the Southeast (such as Florida, the Carolinas, and Louisiana), bears inhabit a mixture of flatwoods, bays, and swampy hardwood sites.

American Black Bear habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

American black bears are territorial and non-gregarious in nature. However, at abundant food sources they may congregate and dominance hierarchies form, with the largest, most powerful males dominating the most fruitful feeding spots. They mark their territories by rubbing their bodies against trees and clawing at the bark. American black bears are excellent and strong swimmers, swimming for pleasure and to feed. They regularly climb trees to feed, escape enemies and hibernate. They may be active at any time of the day or night, although they mainly forage by night. American black bears may communicate with various vocal and non-vocal sounds. Tongue-clicking and grunting are the most common sounds and are made in cordial situations to conspecifics, cubs and occasionally humans. When at ease, they produce a loud rumbling hum. During times of fear or nervousness, bears may moan, huff or blow air. Warning sounds include jaw-clicking and lip-popping. In aggressive interactions, black bears produce deep-throated pulsing calls that can be mistaken for growling. Cubs may squeal, bawl or scream when in distress and make a motor-like humming sound when comfortable or nursing.

Group name
Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

American black bears are omnivores and scavengers. They forage for nuts and fruits in the trees, plucking them with their prehensile lips, and on the ground, they eat grasses, bulbs, and roots, as well as small animals like rodents and insects. Depending on where they live and what prey is available, black bears may eat carrion, hunt young deer, and catch fish in rivers.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
June-mid-July
PREGNANCY DURATION
7 months
BABY CARRYING
3-4 cubs
INDEPENDENT AGE
6-8 months
FEMALE NAME
sow
MALE NAME
boar
BABY NAME
cub

Black bears are polygynous, the males mate with a number of females. June to mid-July is the most active part of the mating season. They generally give birth every second year, but sometimes wait up to 4 years. The gestation period lasts about 7 months, the female giving birth to one to five cubs in her den at the end of winter. Cubs are usually weaned when they are 6 to 8 months old but stay with their mother in her den during their second winter until they reach about 17 months old. Females gain sexual maturity between 2 to 9 years old and males at 3 to 4 years old but keep on growing until 10 to 12 years.

Population

Population threats

Black bears were intensively hunted as trophies, for their hides for clothing and rugs, and their meat for food. Farmers in areas that encroach on the bears' habitat hunt them in order to protect their livestock. Some isolated populations of bears are threatened by habitat loss, mainly as a result of deforestation for logging.

Population number

According to IUCN Red List, the total number of Black bears in North America is likely within the range of 850,000-950,000 mature individuals. Over 300,000 of these are estimated to live in the United States excluding Alaska where the estimated population is around 100,000-200,000 animals. Canada’s black bear population is about 450,000 animals. Currently, American black bears are classified as Least Concern (LC) and their numbers today are increasing.

Ecological niche

Black bears play an important part in ecosystems due to their effects on fruits and insects. They help spread the seeds of any plants that they eat and they also eat many moth larvae and colonial insects controlling their population growth.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • A Black bear standing on his back legs may not be about to charge. He may just be following his curiosity and trying to smell and see something better.
  • Black bears are very intelligent and have an excellent long-term memory and much better navigation skills as compared to people. Each one is an individual and often they share with each other their security, resources, and friendships.
  • American black bears have better eyesight and hearing than humans. Their keenest sense is their sense of smell, which is about seven times more sensitive than a domestic dog's.
  • Black bears can survive without food during hibernation for as long as seven months.
  • American black bears often mark trees using their teeth and claws as a form of communication with other bears; such behavior is also common to many species of bears.

References

1. American Black Bear Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_black_bear
2. American Black Bear on The IUCN Red List site - http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/41687/0

More Fascinating Animals to Learn About