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American Black Bear

American Black Bear
Photographer: Alan D Wilson of www.naturespicsonline.com

Close up of an American Black Bear

American Black Bear Range Map (North America)
American Black Bear Range Map
(North America)

American Black Bear

American Black Bear Cubs
Latin Name Ursus americanus
Conservation Status Least Concern
Location North America & Mexico
Colour Various (See Below)
Length 1.3 - 1.9 m (4.25 - 6.25 ft)
Tail 7 - 15 cm (2.75 - 6 inches)
Weight 55 - 300 Kgs (120 - 660 lbs)
Life Expectancy

25 - 30 Yrs

Main Characteristics

The American Black Bear is the most common species of bear native to North America. They have a body length between 1.3 and 1.9 m (4.25 - 6.25 ft), a tail length between 7 and 15 cms (2.75 - 6 inches) and they weigh between 55 and 300 Kgs (120 - 660 lbs).

The coat of a Black Bear is short and usually black but it can also be dark brown, cinnamon, yellow-brown, grey-blue and white depending on location. Also they sometimes have a white patch on their chest.

Black Bears have strong powerful legs with large paws. They are expert climbers and have an excellent sense of smell. Although they can stand and walk on two legs, they just tend to do this to get a better view or smell of something and they generally move around on all four legs with a characteristic shuffling gait.

American Black Bears hibernate during the winter months and they emerge from their dens in the spring.


American Black Bears are found in the forested areas of Canada, USA and Mexico.

They are solitary animals except for mothers with cubs, during the breeding season or when they come together at feeding sites.

The territory of females ranges from 10 to 40 Kms (6 - 25 miles) where as male territories can be as large as 320 Kms (200 Miles), overlapping the territories of several females.

During the winter they hibernate in dens that they have built. They will build their dens in tree cavities, under rocks or logs, in banks or caves, culverts and in shallow depressions.


American Black Bears mainly feed on vegetation including herbs, grasses, roots, buds, shoots, honey, nuts, fruit, berries and seeds. Occasionally they will also eat fish, small mammals, insects, carrion and rubbish.


American Black Bears mate during the months of June and July, and after a gestation period of 215 days cubs are born in January or February. The average is 2 - 3 cubs per litter, but litter sizes can be as large as 5.

The cubs are born in a den while the mother is hibernating and at birth they will weigh between 200 and 450 g (7 - 16 oz). They are born blind, with no fur and they will remain with their mother in the den until Spring.

The cubs will be weaned at 6 - 8 months but they will stay with their mother for approximately 2 years, learning how to hunt and survive.

They reach sexual maturity when they are between 2 and 5 years old and after having their first litter of cubs they tend to produce litters every other year after.


Humans, mountain lions, grey wolves and brown bears are the only predators of American Black Bears.


There are 16 subspecies of American Black Bear. These are listed below with their respective ranges:

Ursus americanus altifrontalis - From central British Columbia to northern California and inland to the tip of northern Idaho

Ursus americanus amblyceps - Colorado, New Mexico, west Texas and the eastern half of Arizona into northern Mexico, south eastern Utah

Ursus americanus americanus - from eastern Montana to the Atlantic; from Alaska south and east through Canada to the Atlantic and south to Texas

Ursus americanus californiensis - the central valley of California, north through southern Oregon

Ursus americanus carlottae - Queen Charlotte Islands and Alaska

Ursus americanus cinnamomum - Idaho, western Montana, Wyoming, eastern Washington and Oregon, north eastern Utah

Ursus americanus emmonsii - south eastern Alaska

Ursus americanus eremicus - north eastern Mexico

Ursus americanus floridanus - Florida, southern Georgia and Alabama

Ursus americanus hamiltoni - the island of Newfoundland

Ursus americanus kermodei - central coast of British Columbia

Ursus americanus luteolus - eastern Texas, Louisiana, southern Mississippi

Ursus americanus machetes - north central Mexico

Ursus americanus perniger - Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

Ursus americanus pugnax - Alexander Archipelago, Alaska

Ursus americanus vancouveri - Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Interesting Facts

The American Black Bear is also known as:
North American Black Bear
Baribal Bear

95% of their diet is plant based.

Similar Animals

Brown Bear
Polar Bear
Giant Panda
Sun Bear
Sloth Bear
Spectacled Bear
Asiatic Black Bear


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