Black Bear Facts, Information & Photos
The Black Bear is one of America's most magnificent creatures. The Black Bear's cunning and strength reminds us to respect the power of nature.
Black Bear (Ursus Americanus) exclusively belong to the continent of North America. This powerful, yet charming creature is the smallest of the continent’s three bear species, but by far the most common. American Expedition is proud to present Information about Black Bears, interesting Black Bear Facts, and Photos & Artwork of The Black Bear.
Black Bear Information
Black Bear adult males range in size from four to six feet in length and may weigh from 130 to 500 pounds depending upon their age, the season, and the availability of food. Females weigh generally 33 percent less than males, at about 90 to 370 pounds. Some black bears have been found weighing much more than 500 pounds - the current record is 880 pounds. Their typical coloration is black with a white patch on their chest and a tan muzzle; however, some bears may be brown, tan, cinnamon, or even blonde. Black Bears have poor eyesight, but they compensate for this with an acute sense of smell and excellent hearing. They exhibit a high level of sophistication and intelligence through their methods of obtaining food and navigating large territories and rough terrain. Despite their large size, black bears are physically agile, and quite adept at scaling rocks, climbing trees, and swimming.
A female black bears age of first reproduction depends on food supply. If foods are abundant, and therefore body size and condition adequate, the bear will begin to reproduce at the age of 3 or 4. Bears that are nutritionally struggling may not become sexually mature until between ages 5 and 7. After the females first litter, she will reproduce every two years.
Black Bears mate in the summertime, but undergo a delayed implantation in which the fertilized eggs do not develop until female enters her hibernation state in the fall. During the delay, the female will store up fat to support the growing embryos while she hibernates. Usually she will give birth to one to four cubs weighing less than a pound while she is still in hibernation. The young bears, blind and toothless, will then nurse until their mother leaves her period of dormancy in the spring. After the cubs are weaned, they stay with their mother until their second summer. The now two year old cubs will travel in search of their own territory to acquire.
Black Bear Facts
- Black bears usually don't travel very far. A female bear will often have a range of 2-6 miles, while a male's range may extend over a much larger area (up to 15 miles), and overlap the ranges of several females.
- Despite their tendency to stay in one area, black bear excursions of up to 126 miles have been recorded.
- Black bears are very territorial, and will scratch trees with their claws to mark dominance of an area.
- Around 75% of a black bears diet is vegetation. The remainder comes from bird eggs, fish, small mammals, and carrion. They do not go after large prey very often.
- Black bears are very adaptable and eat whatever is in season and plentiful. In the summer, black bears love to eat fruits such as wild cherries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and other brambles. In the fall, they like to eat acorns and nuts.
- Black bears are not true hibernators, and may remain active all year long. They will however enter a state of dormancy in the winter, called torpor. While in dormancy their heart rate, respiratory rate, and body temperature will drop. On warm days, they may leave their shelter to find food.
- Black bears do not usually urinate or defecate while in dormancy. Urine will be reabsorbed by their kidneys, and they will live off their body fat.
- A black bear may lose up to 30 percent of their weight during torpor.
- Black bears are extremely agile, running at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.
- Adult black bears stand 3 feet high on all four paws, but can range from 5 to 7 feet high when standing on two legs.
- Black bears are most active shortly before sunrise and after sunset.
- Black bears once ranged over most forested regions of North America. With human settlement, their current range is now restricted to relatively undisturbed, heavily forested areas.
- Black bears can see in color, and have sharp vision close-up.
- Black bears have an excellent sense of hearing. A black bear’s ears will develop to full size faster than the rest of their body, and their hearing is estimated to be twice as sensitive as that of a human being.
- Black bears have an acute sense of smell, with a nasal mucosa area 100 times larger than that of humans.
- Black bears are cautious animals and typically not aggressive towards human beings. However, if they become habituated to human food sources, they may lose their fear of people.
- Most black bear cubs are born around January, and January's full moon is sometimes called the 'bear moon.'
- Black bears typically live 20-35 years if they are not killed by human related causes.
- Black Bears love to eat honey, and will gnaw through trees to reach beehives set deep inside of the trunk.
- Black Bears lose up to 30% of their weight during their hibernation phase.
- Black Bears often scratch trees with their claws to mark their dominance of an area.
Black Bear Habitat
Black Bears inhabit hardwood and coniferous forests that provide thick ground cover. They prefer the dense foliage for refuge, thermal protection, and bedding.
What Do Black Bears Eat?
Black Bears forage for food and will eat almost anything including plants, roots, buds, nuts, berries, and fruits, along with insects and larvae. They are very adaptable and eat whatever is in season and plentiful. In the summer, black bears love to eat fruits such as wild cherries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and other brambles.
They also love to eat honey, and will gnaw through trees to reach beehives inside the trunk. In the fall, they like to eat acorns and nuts.
While Black bears have been known to eat small animals like rabbits and rodents, they are not very effective predators, and rarely capture large prey.
Black Bears & People
Unlike grizzly bears, black bears are usually shy and seldom aggressive toward humans, unless feeling threatened. If you encounter a black bear, stay calm and do not run. Make your presence known by making loud noises, such as shouting or clapping your hands. This will let the bear know you are there, and will give the bear time to move away from the area without feeling threatened. If you see a bear stand up on hind legs, it does not mean it is ready to attack. A bear acting this way is curious and is trying to identify you using their senses of both sight and smell. Attacks are very rare, but when they do happen it is when the bear is on all fours with their head down. Most attacks take place when a person tries to feed or pet the bear, or because bears get frightened easily, some attacks occur because the person does not let the bear know they are present. If this happens, do not play dead as you would in a grizzly bear encounter, but instead fight back. The black bear will then most likely retreat.
Never provide a source of food for a bear. Bears that associate food with people may become a nuisance to your home, and tend to become more aggressive and dangerous. Avoid attracting bears to your home by keeping trash bags in a can with a tight lid, remove bird feeders, and do not keep your pet’s food outside.
Black bears are considered a “big game” animal and are hunted in 28 of the 50 U.S. states. In some states where the bear is becoming a rarity, hunting them is restricted. Spring hunts are illegal in 20 of the 28 hunted states due to the fact that the bears are just emerging from hibernation. At this time they are weak and lethargic, making them vulnerable targets. Although it is illegal to kill a nursing mother, it is very difficult to tell the gender of a bear most of the time. Therefore, spring hunts result in many orphaned cubs, which end up starving to death. Approximately 30,000 to 40,000 black bears are hunted in the U.S. annually.
In this video, a mother black bear is shown with her cubs.
Black bears are the most common bears in North America.
A black bear will typically have a diet consisting of 75% vegetation, but they will also eat insects, small mammals, and carrion. In addition, they like to fish.
Black bears are typically solitary animals.
There are exceptions to the rule of bears being solitary animals. There are very deep bonds between a mother bear and her cubs.
Tree climbing is a skill learned by a black bear early in life. Whether searching for food, ascending to safety, finding a place to nap, or just looking around, the bear’s strong hind legs provide great strength and balance making the climb possible.
Whenever you're near a stream full of fish in bear country, you should be aware that bears may be in the area.
Black bears are most active during the early morning hours, and just before sunrise. During the day they can often be caught taking naps.
Baby bear cubs may be cute, but you should never approach one. Their claws and their bite are still powerful, and their parents may be nearby.
Black bears are considered a “big game” animal and are hunted in 28 of the 50 U.S. states. In some states where the bear is becoming a rarity, hunting them is restricted.