Animals Nature

Black Bear

black bear

The American black bear is native to North America.  There is a musician named blackbear.  He is found in America too.  His name is Matthew.  Black bears are in fact bears.  They are the most common bears on their respective continent and have the largest habitat.  The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has the species listed as least-concerned.  The animal’s numbers are greater than all of the other bears combined.  There are sixteen subspecies

Black bears have broad heads and narrow noses.  Their skulls are around a foot in length.  The jaw sits on large hinges.  The females are thinner and have a more pronounced face than the boys.  The bear’s claws are the same length on all four paws.  The front ones are sharper.  All of them are thick, rounded and short.  The pads on their paws are wrinkled and brown and black in color.  Their hind legs are longer than their Asian counterparts.

Speeds between twenty-five and thirty miles per hour are possible while running. They are intelligent and can distinguish between colors and shapes quicker than chimpanzees.  Their dexterity allows them to manipulate doors and unscrew jars. If you live in black bear country, make sure your doors are biometric.  If they are not, hide your jars or be prepared to find the door and jam ajar.

retro bears
Retro Black Bears – Photo Credit: National Park Service

Black Bear Characteristics

Black bears weigh thirty percent more in the fall and winter.  East Coast bears are heavier than the other coast.  Northern bears are the thickest (Bergmann’s rule).  Males range from one hundred twenty to five hundred fifty pounds.  Females are between ninety to around three hundred seventy pounds.  The largest documented was hunted in New Brunswick in 1972.  It weighed about one thousand one hundred pounds and was close to eight feet tall.

Thick guard hairs grow next to the dense, but soft underfur of the bear.  Despite their name, their coats come in several different colors.  Silver, gray, blonde, cinnamon, white, light and dark brown and blue hues flow through the hair follicles.  Sometimes they are albino.  Seventy percent are black.

American black bears have better hearing and vision than humans.  Their sense of smell is seven hundred percent greater than dogs.  They can climb trees and are excellent swimmers.  The bears are territorial and unfriendly.  They holster their nature when they congregate near fruitful feeding grounds.  Their territory is marked by slashing trees and rubbing against the splintered bark.

black bear
Fierce – Photo Credit: Eric Kilby


Females reproduce before they are five years old.  Breeding occurs during the middle of summer.  The process can last up to three months.  Males have numerous partners.  The alphas protect their ladies.  Gestation lasts for two hundred thirty-five days.  The cubs pop out in the first two months of the new year.  Up to six are born.  The average is three.  Math.  They become full adults in five years.

Wild black bears live for about twenty years.  The record is thirty-nine years.  Captive bears live twice as long.  They are apex predators, but southern variants are sometimes killed by jaguars.  Poachers and traffic collisions are more common.  Cubs fall victim to cougars, bobcats and coyotes when the mother is absent.  If mom is around, the aggressors have little chance.

The bears are crepuscular.  Vegetables make up eighty five percent of their diet.  They love honey and will eat ants, bees and wasps.  Bee stings have no effect.  The saccharin prize is worth the small inconvenience.  Northern black bears prey on salmon during the night.  The dark hues of their fur cause daytime problems.  Sometimes they kill adolescent deer when it is convenient.  Sometimes they do not. 

baby black bear
Baby Bear – Photo Credit: Tambako the Jaguar


Sometimes they are scavengers and assert dominance.  Their sheer size and strength allow easy access to the food of other predators.  The original predator sometimes dies.  Sometimes they live.  Black bears do not attack humans.  Grizzly bears do.  Brown bears too.  There are a few isolated cases of black bear attacks, but they prefer isolation…and honey.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Ursidae
Genus: Ursus
Species:U. americanus

Black Bear Subspecies

U. a. californiensis California black bear (Oregon and California)
U. a. cinnamomumCinnamon bear (Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon and Utah)
U. a. pugnaxDall Island black bear (Alaska)
U. a. eremicusEast Mexican black bear (Texas and Mexico)
U. a. americanus Eastern black bear (Eastern North America)
U. a. floridanus Florida black bear (Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi)
U. a. emmonsii Glacier bear (Alaska)
U. a. carlottae Haida Gwaii black bear (Alaska)
U. a. pernigerKenai black bear (Alaska)
U. a. kermodei Kermode bear or spirit bear (Canada)
U. a. luteolus Louisiana black bear (Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi)
U. a. amblyceps New Mexico black bear (Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Utah and Mexico)
U. a. hamiltoni Newfoundland black bear (Newfoundland)
U. a. altifrontalis Olympic black bear (Canada and United States)
U. a. vancouveriVancouver Island black bear (Vancouver Island, British Columbia)
U. a. machetes West Mexican black bear (North-central Mexico)
black bear and fish
A Fish, Abashed – Photo Credit: CaliforniaDFW

4 comments on “Black Bear

  1. A truly in-depth and interesting article. I really appreciate the bears and this information was very helpful, thank you very much!

  2. That was very concise, thank you. I am extremely afraid of bears and therefore stay out of the woods. But then, I’m afraid of everything. Life is very tenuous for human beings who do not have the physical characteristics that would protect them from wildlife. For 1, we are naked with no protective coat, our hearing, our strength, our sense of smell, our eyesight, and our ability to climb or run are not particularly good. I enjoyed reading your post very much.

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