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American Black Bear

Updated on February 25, 2016

Scientific Name: Ursus americanus

American Black Bear Description

 There are more American Black Bears than any other species found in the world. They are amazing creatures and one that you will often see depicted in various forms. In spite of their names they can be black or they can be brown in color. They are considered to be either small or medium in size. It depends on where they happen to be located.

For example in some regions these bears are only about 200 pounds when they are full grown. In other areas though they can be up to 500 pounds. They generally are about 5 feet tall. The males are heavier and taller than the females but there isn’t very much of a difference so it can be hard to tell which one you happen to be seeing.

American Black Bear Anatomy

 At a top speed of about 40 miles per hour, the American Black Bear is the fastest one out there. Their bodies are stocky and strong but built to give them plenty of agility. They have large heads and snouts. You will also notice that they have sharp claws which can be many inches long. They use these claws to defend themselves, to take down prey, and for climbing trees.

The coat of these bears is thinner than on other species and that is puzzling to some people. After all they do reside in some cooler climates. Don’t worry though as these bears have a second coat that is very close to their skin. It offers them a way to keep out elements such as wind and rain. Their outer coat may be wet but their body temperature won’t be affected.

There are rumors that these bears are blind. They aren’t actually blind but they don’t have the best vision. They rely on other senses though including smelling and hearing in order to help them survive.

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American Black Bear Evolution

 For the past 3 ½ million years these bears have been part of the world. It may seem hard to swallow but they were once very closely related to the felines out there. They may have had tails too that disappeared through the evolution process. The fact that they consume more plants that meat also suggests that they were able to evolve with their diet in order to be able to survive.

American Black Bear Behavior

If you want to see the American Black Bear in action, you need to be around in the early morning hours. They will forage for food as the sun comes up. However, as the hot sun starts to heat up they will find cooler locations to rest in. When the sun is going down they will be active once again.
While American Black Bears do have established territories, they tend to not pay attention to those boundaries as fall approaches. They will continue to move all the need to in order to find enough food. As their natural environment is taken away from them for human use they have no choice but to be in the same areas.

These bears can be very territorial with each other when it comes to finding food. The younger ones are finding it harder and harder to find a place that they can call their own home range. The males seem to be more protective of their areas than the females. However, the females can also be very territorial when they are trying to help their young survive as well.

American Black Bear Videos

American Black Bear Habitat/Distribution

 There are tons of areas around Mexico, Canada, and the USA which happen to be home to the American Black Bear. They are able to adapt to plenty of different types of environments. This includes the mountains, the plains, and the swamps. As long as they have enough food, shady areas for during the day, and places to hibernate in the winter months than they are able to thrive.

American Black Bear Diet/Feeding Habits

 The diet of this bear is more diverse than with any other species. They will even consume clothing and equipment that campers or hikers leave out. They love to eat and they are very curious about smells that they pick up on. As they roam around their home range they will find plenty of seasonal fruits and berries. They know where to move to throughout the year in order to get them when they are abundant.

They love to consume sweets such as yams and honey. Nuts, grass, and leaves are also part of their diet when they need to consume them. These bears tend to hunt only when they absolutely have to. They can consume small animals but also take down those up to three times their own size. What is readily available in any given area depends on where their habitat is.

Due to the fact that these bears will eat just about anything, they are the worst when it comes to consuming people food. If you leave it out they will get into it. They also are smart enough to figure out how to get lids off of trash cans. In most public places where American Black Bears are known to roam there are special ones in place that they can’t open. Of course many humans also find them difficult to open as well!

Once these bears get a taste of human food they continue to come back for it more and more. This has lead to some of these bears being killed. Many areas have a three strike rule and after a tagged bear has had to be move three times it will be killed. Ranchers often have problems with these bears taking down cattle as well.

American Black Bear Reproduction

 From the late part of the spring to the early part of summer is the perfect time for these bears to mate. It may seem like the females carry the young for a very long time given the fact that they won’t be born until either the later part of January or in the early part of February.

What actually happens though is that the embryo won’t attach to the uterus and start to grow for a couple of months after mating has taken place. This means the females have plenty of time to eat lots of food and to store fat for the winter. She will need enough for both her and her offspring to survive on. They will be born while she is in her den and after a few months they  will come out with her.

Most of the time there will be two American Black Bear cubs born at a time. However, there can also be either three or four of them. They are very patient and caring mothers, doing all they can to help their young have the right abilities to survive when they head out on their own. That will occur before they are two years of age.

American Black Bear Videos

American Black Bear Predators

 For the most part these bears don’t have too many predators. The younger ones can become victims of larger bears though when food is in short supply. Larger animals can also surprise them and make meals out of them. Injured American Black Bears are easier to catch as they can’t run as fast as they should be able to do so.

These bears are often hunted by humans though for food or because they are trying to raise cattle. Hunters are also able to kill them in many locations due to the high number of them. This hunting can only be done with the right licensing and during a specific frame of time during the year.


Submit a Comment
  • S Leretseh profile image

    S Leretseh 

    7 years ago

    Very Good article. The black bear and the lion tho couldn't hv been a chance encounter. Ive heard about wealthy people creating these types of animal encounters for their own amusement.


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