Field Guide/Mammals/Black Bear
|Ursus americanus (Black Bear)|
Size: The total length of a black bear grows up to 6 feet (1828.8 mm) long with a tail length of 3-5 inches (76.2-127mm). With four feet on the ground, it stands up to 2 feet. (609.6mm) tall and weighs from 220-330 pounds (99.8-149.68 kg).
Description: Black bears usually have black or dark brown furs with a lighter brown snout. They have small eyes, round ears, and a straight or rounded snout. Some of these black bears have white chest patch. They can stand and walk, but they usually stand on all four legs. They can dig and climb trees because of their curved claws.
Similar Species: This species has black or dark brown fur which is similar to grizzly bears'. Grizzly bears have furs that are lighter. Black Bears also have a straighter and more round snout that is different from a grizzly bear’s “curved in” face.
Range: Black Bears can be sighted from Alaska, east of Canada, most of the United States, to central Mexico. As for our state, they are usually seen in northern parts of Minnesota.
Habitat: They are usually in areas that have a lot of vegetables, tall grassy areas, woodlands, forests, and water access areas.
Diet: If they are disturbed during their hibernation in winter, they tend to eat hollow trees, rock cavities, and open-ground trees. During winter, black bears are known to hibernate for about seven months. During spring, they usually eat grass, insects, and vegetables. Overall, they eat fruits, nuts, acorns, berries, rarely other animals, and garbage composed by humans.
Activity: Winter, Black Bears hibernate in “hard to get in” places for about seven months. Spring, they move to lower parts of grounds (e.g. bottom of a mountain) then higher parts in summer/fall as foods become available.
Reproduction: Mating season only happens once per year and it usually starts late May to mid July. Black Bears mate when they are 4-5 years old. Female bears will mate every other year after pregnancy. It takes about 220 days to give birth including 10 weeks delay of fertilizing eggs. Female Black Bears usually give birth to 1-6 cubs. 2-3 cubs usually survive. The cub stays with the mom for 1-1 ½ year before separating to begin their own lives.
Lifespan: Black Bears live up to 30 years of age, but most only live up to 10 years because of hunters.
Notes: The black bear got its name from the color of its furs. Also, some black bear are confused for brown (grizzly) bears because of their dark brownish furs. They are also hunted by humans for food or trophies.
- Plunkett, Richard (2011), Black Bears, http://www.caveslime.org/kids/cavejourney/SpeciesAccounts/BlackBears.html, retrieved October 7, 2012
- Dewey, Tanya; Kronk, Christine (2012), Ursus americanus: American black bear, http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Ursus_americanus/, retrieved October 7, 2012
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