American Black Bear – Untamed Science

In North America, the black hold ( Ursus americanus ) is the most common species of bear. It is native to the continent and ranges from northern Alaska to Mexico. In fact the bootleg hold is found in 41 of the 50 states in the U.S.A. While the brown wear is eurasian in origin, the black wear is presently thought to have evolved in North America about two million years ago. here is quick video nip talking about black have a bun in the oven hibernation. In fact, we helped with a small discipline with the Michigan DNR .

Life History Characteristics

Black bears are normally lonely animals whose lifestyles are dictated by their biological indigence to consume large quantities of food. Bears only tolerate the presence of early bears during the education season, when a female is with her cub, or when bears congregate in areas with centralize food sources such as drivel dumps and salmon streams. Adult male bears are not part of the class unit .


Bears reproduce at a very low rate compared to other north american kingdom mammals. Female black bears normally become sexually mature between the ages of two and seven years. The long time of first base replica varies geographically, depending on the handiness of food and the size and condition of the bears. Males ( called boars ) and females ( called sows ) may mate with more than one partner. The coupling period normally occurs in June or July and lasts from two to five days. During this clock, males roam extensively in search of centripetal females. implantation of the fertilized eggs in the uterine wall does not occur until the female is ready to enter the lair, normally in October ( in northern regions ) or November ( in cardinal regions ). This phenomenon is called stay implantation. If a female does not gain adequate weight before hibernation, her body may reabsorb the eggs .

Birth and Growth of Cubs

Cubs are born in the lair during January or February and emerge from the den in April. Litter size can range from one to five cubs, with two-cub litters the most coarse. Older or heavier black bears often produce more offspring. Newborn cub weigh seven to 11 ounces ( 200 to 300 grams ). By six weeks of historic period, cubs weigh about four to seven pounds ( two to three kilogram ). Newborn cubs are altricial ( helpless at give birth ). Their eyes are closed, and they are covered with all right, down-like fur. Because bears are mammals, the first meal they receive in liveliness is full-bodied milk from their mothers. Bear cub turn quickly because digest milk has a very high fat and protein capacity. Cubs harbor while they are in the den and may continue nursing through the summer .
Cubs remain with their mothers for about a year and a half. During this fourth dimension, they learn fundamental skills from their mothers. These early teach experiences shape a cub ’ s future behavior. Throughout life, bears besides learn by test and erroneousness and by observing other bears. eighteen months after the cub are born, the family unit breaks up. Cubs, now called yearlings, begin searching for their own dwelling ranges. female yearlings normally remain within or near their mothers ’ home plate scope, but male yearlings must find territories to claim as their own. Dispersal is a difficult and dangerous time. Although black bears have few natural predators, adult male bears will kill and eat yearlings. Since prevailing males occupy the best habitats, younger male bears are often pushed into bare habitats. frequently, borderline habitats are close to rural homes, towns, or cities. As a result, young male bears have a higher risk of mortality from fomite collisions, search, and veto encounters with humans .


Diseases rarely affect black bears. however, dental cavities are common ascribable to their sugar-rich diet. Young or smaller bears are occasionally preyed upon by embrown ( grizzly ) bears, wolves, bobcats, and other black bears. once bears reach maturity at four to eight years of age, hunt, trap, poaching, and fomite collisions are the main causes of death. Vehicle deathrate may be higher than reported because bears can sustain deadly injuries and continue to travel considerable distances from roadways. male bears suffer higher vehicle mortality than females because of their larger home ranges, in combination with their habit of crossing and following roadways. In outback wilderness areas, black bears can live up to 30 years .


Black bears are highly curious, very intelligent, mobile, and adaptable animals. They promptly learn by trial and error, adapting to new stimuli and circumstances. For exemplar, one learn indicated that bears near urban/wild nation edges were active fewer hours each day, entered their dens belated, remained in them for fewer days, and shifted their activities to nocturnal periods. curious bootleg bears will explore and learn about novel objects in their environment by manipulating them with their forepaws and by chewing. Bears can besides learn from other bears ; bear cubs learn many behaviors by watching their mother .
Like most animals, black bears exhibit certain behaviors that can sometimes forecast their mood or intentions. A black have a bun in the oven standing on its hind leg is frequently curious, and is trying to see or hear better. A nervous black bear may salivate excessively. A panicky black behave may run off or act defensively, giving ocular and vocal cues such as swatting the ground with its paw or blow explosively through its nostrils .
other defensive displays by a bear may include puff, groan, yack start, or lowering its head with its ears drawn back while facing the risk. Black bears ’ metabolic need to eat a year ’ s worth of food in seven to nine months significantly affects their behavior. hungry total darkness bears may roam farther than common in search of food, sometimes beyond the normal compass of the species .

Black Bear Populations

In many areas of the county, black have a bun in the oven populations have recovered from historic lows. Beginning in the late 1980s through the start of the twenty-first hundred, black bear numbers increased at a rate of two percentage a year continent wide. Changes benefiting black bears during this time included reforestation of the landscape, black yield reintroduction programs, and regulations on hunting black bears .
Though black bears have not reclaimed all of their original range across America, they have rebounded to populations of an calculate 800,000 bears in 37 states and all canadian Provinces. At the like prison term, human populations have expanded, numerically and geographically. In some areas, these two expanding populations are intersecting. In overlapping habitats, humans can often coexist with black bears. The challenge is to find a balance wheel between the issue of total darkness bears a habitat can support, called the biological carry capacity, and the number of bears the human community will accept, called the cultural carry capacity .

Coexisting with Black Bears

A key factor in predicting a person ’ south attitudes towards black bears is his or her sensing of how dangerous bears are. Familiarity fosters incontrovertible attitudes. In New York State, a 2002 chain mail survey indicated the majority of residents enjoyed having blacken bears in the country. Most survey respondents had seen a raving mad black bear and about all perceived it as a positive experience. negative attitudes towards black bears are often related to concerns for personal guard, reactions to bear damage to crops or property, and beliefs centering on real or perceived competition for crippled and habitat .
If you want to know how to survive a black hold attack at some point, head over to StoneAgeMan .
human behaviors that can benefit black wear populations include habitat restoration and conservation programs, estate habit plan to limit habitat fragmentation, research and management programs, and wildlife education programs. human behaviors that negatively affect black bears include feeding bears, harassing bears, land development in “ bear nation, ” human activities that reduce lifelike behave food sources, and management strategies that affect other wildlife species that compete for resources ( i.e. White-tailed deer ) .

Subspecies of Black Bear:

There are several different subspecies of black wear including the Cinnamon Bear, Glacier Bear, and Kermode Bear. The play along list describes some of the accept subspecies .

Ursus americanus altifrontalis This subspecies lives in the Pacific NW from central BC to northern Cal and inland to Northern Idaho.
Ursus americanus amblyceps Found in CO, NM, AZ, west TX, southeaster Utah and northern Mexico.
Ursus americanus americanus This subspecies is widespread from eastern MT to the east coast.  Its found as far north as Alaska and south to TX.
Ursus americanus californiensis This California bear is found in the mountains from southern Oregon to southern CA.
Ursus americanus carlottae The Queen Charlotte Black Bear is found on the Queen Charlotte Islands and the Alaska mainland.
Ursus americanus cinnamomum The Cinammon Bear is found in ID, western MT, WY, eastern WA, northeastern UT and OR.
Ursus americanus emmonsii Found in southeastern AK
Ursus americanus eremicus Lives in northeastern Mexico
Ursus americanus floridanus In the south this bear ranges from FL, southern Georgia to Alabama.
Ursus americanus hamiltoni This bear lives on the island of Newfoundland
Ursus americanus kermodei The Kermode Bear lives on the central coast of British Columbia
Ursus americanus luteolus Found natively in eastern TX, LA, and southern MS
Ursus americanus machetes Native to north-central Mexico
Ursus americanus perniger Native to the Kenai Pennisula, AK
Ursus americanus pugnax Found on the Alexander Archipelago in AK
Ursus americanus vancouveri

Bear History

Before Columbus

When humans foremost entered North America some 15,000 years ago, bears inhabited every corner of the continent. The grey give birth thrived in all western states, ranging as far south as Mexico and as far north as the topple of Alaska. Related to the grey bear, but with certain behavioral, morphologic, and physiological differences, the smaller black hold roamed North America from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from Mexico to the northern edges of the continent. To native Americans, the black give birth provided a valuable source of midst hides for invest and shelter, deep meat, and sugared fat. The unique traits of the bear itself provided the kernel of their legends. native Americans pass on these legends through an oral tradition called storytelling. These stories teach the young, passing on a tribe ’ mho rituals and beliefs, safeguard history, and entertain the listeners. Some stories describe how an animal acquired a physical characteristic while others tell about the animal ’ s relationships with people or other wildlife .

Pioneers Arrive

early american settlers found black bears in abundance when they arrived, but the bears represented more than a food informant to early pioneers. Settlers brought with them european perceptions and behaviors ; wilderness was viewed as threaten, as were the crazy animals living in it. Bounties placed on predators became common, such as the one-penny bounty for a dead beast in Massachusetts Bay Colony. To the settlers, bears posed threats to their families, livestock, crops, and future. This attitude surfaced in popular nature books of that time which showed animals such as bears attacking hunters or eagles flying off with children. Settlers did not merely kill bears with their guns. Cutting, burning and clearing changed the wooded lands into open farm fields and pastures. As the wave of humans expanded, black bears lost much of their native habitat, restricting their populations to some of the more mountainous, boggy, and rugged regions of North America.

Conservation Awakens

The few black bears that remained in the mid 1800s came under the atmospheric pressure of unregulated grocery store hunting for their hides, meat, and fatten. Due to their low generative rate, bears recover more slowly from population losses than other north american mammals. By 1900, black bear numbers dwindled in many areas of the country, nearing the charge of extinction. finally, America began to realize the importance of wildlife management, including the plight of the black have a bun in the oven. By the mid-1900s, hunting seasons became heavily controlled, or closed raw, and hold restoration programs began in some states. meanwhile, the forests that had been cut and burned decades before began to grow again in many areas. As bear habitat increased, so did black behave numbers .
Beginning in the late 1980s through the beginning of the twenty-first century, black hold numbers increased at a rate of two percentage per year continent-wide, with some states such as New Jersey and Maryland reporting a quintuple increase. Though black bears have not reclaimed all of their master scope across North America, their populations have rebounded to an estimated 800,000 bears in 37 states and Canada. additionally, more states report black bears inhabiting areas they have not roamed for about 100 years .


A Hibernation Overview

Hibernators prepare for winter by locating bedding sites and, in some cases, by stashing food. Some animals ( for example, woodchucks and ground squirrels ) hibernate in a deep sleep. They are considered true hibernators because their body temperatures are lone slightly higher than their surroundings. These hibernators are besides very unmanageable to awaken and may appear dead. This state of listlessness lasts five to seven months. Due to their high surface-to-mass body proportion, small hibernators cool fairly quickly, so they sporadically warm up by moving about, eating, and passing wastes .

Black Bear Hibernation

Although black bears are not considered true hibernators because they do not enter a express of listlessness, some scientists consider them ace hibernators. During hibernation, they do not drink, feed, stool, or urinate. Unlike true hibernators, the kernel torso temperature of black bears – the temperature of the internal organs in the breast cavity, abdominal region, and head – does not differ markedly from their normal body temperature of 100 to 101°F ( 37.7 – 38.3°C ) .
Black bears chiefly hibernate to conserve energy during winter ’ s food shortages. To prepare for hibernation, they gorge on food in the precipitate. This work of eating large amounts of food, called hyperphagia, builds their reserves of brown and white fat. White fat insulates the body and is metabolized to fuel bodily processes. Bears convert the chemical energy stored in their brown fatty into heat to keep them strong. While hibernating, black bears recycle the nitrogen in their urine to build new proteins. Black bears can lose up to 45 percentage of their body weight during hibernation, but most of this loss is in the mannequin of fat .
Although black bear dens can offer security from predators and the elements, the temperature inside a yield den does not vary perceptibly from outside temperatures. Black bear dens besides offer a fairly safe environment for females to birth and suckle their helpless young. During hibernation, black bears may become active and briefly leave their hideout area. Black bears normally do not reuse their dens from year to year. Hibernation can last for up to seven months in the northern regions of North America, although black bears in the southern United States may enter their dens late and hibernate for shorter periods of clock. If enough food is available in southern regions, some black bears may not hibernate at all.


Like all animals, black bears exhibit specific adaptations that help them survive in their habitats. Black bears are scientifically classified in the order Carnivora because they have canine teeth. however, unlike other members of this orderliness ( such as wolves, foxes, and cats ) blacken bears are not effective predators. They lack the shrill molars and premolars of true carnivores. Their massive body structure with thick legs, enormous shoulders, and a short back, are designed for strength and world power preferably than for speed for catching prey. Although they can run swiftly over short distances, reaching speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, black bears cursorily overheat due to their large size .
Like coyotes and raccoons, black bears serve as omnivores. Plants comprise up to 95 percentage of their diet. however, their digestive tracts lack caecums and rumens, organs found in herbivores such as deer. therefore, bootleg bears ’ food moves quickly through their digestive systems. much of the plant fiber is undigested, so fewer nutrients are removed. Black bears solve this trouble by eating huge quantities of food, particularly before hibernation. They besides selectively forage ( search for food ) for easily digestible plants with concentrated nutrients ( for example, fruits and nuts ). Black bears besides have avaricious ( detached ) lips. This adaptation enables them to pluck berries from shrubs and trees .
Feet besides provide clues to an animal ’ sulfur life style. A black give birth ’ sulfur long, curved hook help them climb corner trunks to reach nuts, seeds, and leaves ; rent open logs and worm mounds ; and overturn rocks to scavenge for insects. Like humans, they have plantigrade feet. The structure of the foot allows plantigrade species to place their entire foot on the grate during each pace ; this improves remainder. This broad foundation of support allows humans to easily walk upright. It besides permits bears to stand good concisely to improve their ability to see and hear. Bears besides may stand to claw tree trunks or fence posts, or to display aggression against other bears. Plantigrade species are slower moving animals. In line, digitigrade mammal species like dogs and cats walk on the entire duration of their toes, with the heel raised. This allows for faster apparent motion. Unguligrade species such as deer and horses walk on their tiptoes .
fiddling research is available on the extent of black bears ’ spy and hearing, but attest suggests that bears may have the keenest sense of smell in the animal populace. Bears ’ exceeding noses are used to locate mates, detect and avoid risk, and find food. When searching for prey, bears primarily trust on their smell of smack and learn. A combination of smell and view are much used to locate nuts, berries, and other plant foods .

Foraging Adaptations

Black bears have their own singular set of food-gathering adaptations. Foraging as omnivores, black bears promptly eat both plant and animal topic. Although 75 to 95 percentage of their diet consists of implant material, black bears lack some of the adaptations of herbivores. They can not efficiently digest much of the plant fiber they eat .
Natural foods normally eaten by total darkness bears include nuts, fruits and berries, crayfish, frogs, honey, mushrooms, seeds, ants, bees, beetles, eggs, cambium ( tree under bark ), carrion, fish, grasses, and herb. Black bears much locate a food source with their exquisite sense of smell. They besides use their eyes and ears to locate food. Their curl claws and heavy muscle structure help them climb trees to feed on nuts, fruits, and leaves ; rent receptive tree stumps in search of beloved ; and overturn logs to reach insects. Both claws and teeth are used to capture and eat pisces .


Black bear diets vary seasonally. When they emerge from their dens in jump, black bears forage primarily on grasses and insects. They besides feed on carrion ( dead animal matter ). They may lose weight during this time .
During belated spring through late summer, bears eat by and large fruits, or piano mast. This delicate mast diet may include blackberries, pokeberries, wilderness cherries, sassafras berries, blueberries, and early berries. They supplement their diet during the summer with higher protein insects. Through late summer and spill, black bears forage chiefly on tree nuts, or hard mast. This hard mast normally includes hickory nuts, beechnuts, hazelnuts, and a variety show of acorns. The amount and type of nut varies well each year by location and season. Black bears depend on acorns in many areas of the country, while beechnuts are the primary coil hard mast in parts of the Northeast .
These high-energy mast foods are essential to black bears in the fall. The high-fat subject of nuts help black bears build up body adipose tissue to prepare them for winter hibernation. Availability of fall foods can influence black bears ’ generative success, habitat manipulation, dwelling rate, motion patterns, and ultimately survival. During fall feed, black bears may gain 100 pounds or more before going into their winter dens .
natural food shortages can result from failure of berry and arduous mast crops ascribable to early frosts or drought, habitat personnel casualty due to development, and competition with other bears due to an addition in population. When there is a deficit in natural food sources, black bears must range far to find the food they need to survive. By belated summer and early fall, hungry bears may start to wander closer to humans in search of food. Being opportunist feeders, they may seek out farm crops, bird feed, positron emission tomography food, foods placed in compost bins, beloved from managed beehives, and livestock. Young male bears driven into bare habitats by older, dominant bears are the most likely to guess besides close to humans .

Videos on American Black Bears

Quick Hibernation Ecofact

Living with Bears in Virginia

Student Resources – Books

Other Great Web Resources for Black Bears

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