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American black bear

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American black bear
Scientific Classification
Subtaxa / Binomial Name

U. americanus

Image Description

The American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) is common in most of North America from Canada into northern Mexico. Its population of 500,000 has been growing recently, and black bears are being found in places where there were none in the early twentieth century. There are more black bears than all other bears combined.


The Black Bear actually comes in many colors including black, blue-gray, cinnamon, and white[1]. The white bear, also deemed the “Spirit” or “Kermode” bear, is a rare color form typically found along the British Columbia coast and the Southeast panhandle of Alaska. The black bear is the only bear considered original to North America. They are regularly hunted as a game species in many parts of North America. Excellent tree climbers, they often stop at one point in a tree and pull fruit and branches toward themselves. After they have eaten, the bent branches look like giant nests and are locally called "bear nests". They have hybridized with brown bears and may have hybridized with Asiatic black bears.

Though hibernation does not always happen, when they hibernate, their body temperature can drop to 31 to 34 degrees celsius while the Asiatic Black Bear will sometimes have a temperature of 3 - 7 degrees celsius during hibernation[2].

Bears have color vision as well as an excellent sense of smell. They can run at 30 miles per hour.[3] They have "rounded ears, a long snout, a large body, and a short tail"[4].


The Great Smokey Mountains National Park Service[5] notes:

Most activity occurs during early morning and late evening hours during spring and summer. Mating usually takes place in July. Both female and male bears may have more than one mate during the summer.

Bears choose a denning site with the coming of cold weather. Dens are usually hollow stumps, tree cavities, or wherever there is shelter. Bears in the Smokies are unusual in that they often den high above the ground in standing hollow trees. Bears do not truly hibernate, but enter long periods of sleep. They may leave the den for short periods if disturbed or during brief warming trends.

One to four cubs are born during the mother’s winter sleep, usually in January. Bears weigh eight ounces at birth. Females with newly born cubs usually emerge from their winter dens in late March or early April. Commonly born in pairs, the cubs will remain with the mother for about eighteen months or until she mates again.


Range - Places the US National Parks Service lists as a home for black bears:

Yosemite National Park, California.[6]

Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Tennessee, North Carolina.[7] Here they number about 1600 (2 bears per square mile when normally it would be 1 bear for 15 square miles)and are all black in color.

Big Bend National Park, Texas.[8] Here, Black Bears have reestablished themselves since 1980 after disappearing in 1944.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.[9]

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California. [10]

Bears are hunted as game, and their meat must be well cooked because they can harbor trichinosis[11]


  1. Interpreting an Unusual Arctic Bear within a Creation Model of Origins by Tom Hennigan, July 8, 2009
  2. Interpreting an Unusual Arctic Bear within a Creation Model of Origins by Tom Hennigan, July 8, 2009
  3. Nature & Science - Black Bears
  4. American Black Bear
  5. Nature and Science - Black Bears
  6. Wildlife
  7. Black Bears
  8. Mexican Black Bears
  9. American Black Bear
  10. Black Bear Biology
  11. eNature Black Bear card