American black bear

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American black bear
Scientific classification
Kingdom Information
Domain Eukaryota
Kingdom Animalia
Subkingdom Bilateria
Phylum Information
Phylum Chordata
Sub-phylum Vertebrata
Infraphylum Gnathostomata
Class Information
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Mammalia
Sub-class Theriiformes
Infra-class Holotheria
Order Information
Order Carnivora
Family Information
Family [[Ursidae [1]]]
Genus Information
Genus Ursus [1]
Species Information
Species Ursus americanus
Population statistics
Conservation status Least concern

The American black bear is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent's smallest and most widely distributed bear species, as well as the world's most common bear species; like the brown bear, American black bears are not considered globally threatened with extinction. They also have a wider variety in fur color than any bear species: the usual black, cinnamon-brown, silvery-gray, and white.


The American black bear is the smallest of the North American bear species, though it's far from the smallest bear in total. These bears are 5 to 7 feet long in length and 3 to 4 feet high at the shoulder. Males are usually bigger than the females, weighing in at 110 to 800 pounds; females, on the other hand, weigh in at 90 to 400 pounds.

While they are called black bears, black is not the only color these bears come in. A cinnamon brown color is a common color behind black, leading to people calling it a "cinnamon bear". Black bears found along the Alaskan coast can be seen with blue or silver-gray fur, thus being called "glacier bears". In the temperate rainforests of British Columbia, there are black bears with white fur. These bears are called Kermode bears (or "spirit bear" due to their white form).


American black bears are indigenous to North America, ranging from the swamps to mountains and forests. The states they live in the United States of America include Alaska, Arkansas, West Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. Canada is also prime black bear country, from Canada's west coast to the east. There are black bears living in Mexico, with the species pushing up to the Texas border; these bears live in a drier and more sparse habitat like scrubland.


The American black bear has good eyesight and hearing, but their sense of smell is the most superior of its senses. Its smell is stronger than that of a bloodhound. Out of the bears in the world, it is one of the four species (along with the giant panda, Asiatic black bear, and sun bear) that can climb well; adult bears climb trees to escape from predators, feed, and sleep, and cubs do the same thing including playing. They are also good swimmers, swimming for fun and catching fish. Like other bear species, black bears are solitary except for a mating pair or a mother with her cubs.


American black bears are mainly foragers, feeding on grass, fruit, and nuts, though they will also feed on insects like bees and ants. Meat is also a part of their diet, which includes fish and young deer. Honey is a treat for black bears, though it can be painful for a bear to get it straight from the honeycomb due to the bees defending it.

When the chance arrives, though, black bears will wander into towns, national parks, and campsites, looking for food leftover from humans in garbage cans or dumpsters. This increases the chance of human and bear encounters and eventually even leads to a bear attack when some bears grow bolder the more they scavenge.


Sows have their first litter at around three or five years of age. They can have up to two or three cubs in a litter during hibernation (late January or early February), the cubs leaving the den with their mother shortly after spring arrives. Like the adults, the cubs are capable of climbing trees and will climb to either escape predators, feed on fruits, or play with their siblings. The cubs stay with their mother until three years of age, when they find their own territories and mates. The males don't partake in taking care of the cubs.

Conservation status

American black bears are common in most parts around the United States and Canada. They are currently not endangered, though they can still be in danger from poaching or deforestation.

Black bears in culture

The teddy bear was created by Morris Michtom, who in turn was inspired by a cartoon involving President Theodore Roosevelt, who had refused to shoot a black bear cub when it was tied to a tree during a hunt.

A young American black bear named Winnipeg (who lived in the London Zoo) inspired the fictional character Winnie The Pooh, which Disney had then made short films for in the 1960s and 1970s. Winnipeg - who lived to be 20 years old - had lived in the London Zoo from 1914 to her death on May 12, 1934.

Ever since the Capitan Gap Fire in 1950, an American black bear had been the mascot of the United States Forest Service, represented by Smokey Bear. Said mascot has encouraged people to be careful when tending to campsite fires, warning with his slogan, "Only you can prevent wildfires".

Seekers - a book series created by Erin Hunter - has a black bear among the three main protagonists: a friendly female named Lusa. She had come from the Vancouver Zoo (known to bears as the "Bear Bowl"), inspired by the wild from a friend of the family and her father, and escapes to help a wild female grizzly bear find her missing son. She is friendly and curious about the wild, though that curiosity can lead her into trouble. Other black bears include her mother Ashia, her father King, and her friends Stella and Yogi.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Bears across the world …. Creation Ministries International (September, 1998). Retrieved on March 7, 2020.