BLACK BEARS

The Black bear (Ursus americanus) lives only in North America and is very common. It’s an agile animal and a very good climber.

Grizzly bear catches a salmon in a river.

PHOTOS

Sign with rules on how to store your food in bear country.

KNOWING WHAT TO DO

The Black bear is very peaceful and only attacks a human when it is injured, harassed, or if it thinks you have food with you that it can steal.

If you only look at the color of its fur, it will be hard to see if it is a black bear or a grizzly. The color varies from black, blue black, brown, cinnamon-colored, beige and white. Animals from one litter can differ greatly in color.

The black bear has a very specific subspecies that is white and looks a bit similar to the polar bear. It is named after Dr. Francis Kermodei (pronounced Ker-mo-dee) who discovered that a recessive gene was responsible for this light color. The Kermodei only lives along a small section of the Canadian North West Coast (British Columbia). Its full name: Ursus americanus kermodei.

An adult black bear lives alone. It’s only during mating season that they are looking for a companion. The black bear is mainly an herbivore and preferably eats berries and fruits. But it also likes small rodents and fish. Especially during the salmon run (end May to mid-September). An adult bear can eat about 7 kg of food per day.

In the beginning of winter a black bear will be looking for a cave or other shelter so it can take a very long sleep (hibernation). Pregnant females give birth during the winter months. The young are born blind, have almost no hair and weigh less than a kilo (2 pounds). The mother will suckle the young in the cave without eating or drinking until she will leave the cave around April. Occasionally however she will go out on warmer days to forage. During hibernation, the proteins and fats that are stored in the body will slowly be broken down. During this process, water that is lost from breathing, perspiration and the suckling young, will be replaced. Black bears do not urinate during hibernation, to reduce moisture loss. The waste products are converted inside the body to amino acids which can be used again. The bears start their hibernation in October. During sleep their temperature can drop from 38 Celsius (100F) to 31 Celsius (88F).  

 

The young remain with their mother until they are about 2 years old.

BLACK BEAR INFO

Weight: 130 kg

Length: 1.4 meter

 

 

More detailed information about black bears can be found on the following pages.

 

Wikipedia

National Geographic

World Wildlife Fund

BBC Nature

Habitat

Mother black bear with 2 cubs along a river in Sequoia National Park USA
Black bear habitat worldwide map.