Basic Bear Facts

Quick Black Bear Facts

Folklore: Perhaps no other animals have so excited the human imagination as bears.  References to bears are found in ancient and modern literature, folk songs, legends, mythology, children stories, and…

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Black bear cub

Typical Year for Black Bears

January:  The full moon in January is sometimes called the ‘bear moon’.  Black bear cubs are generally born in January.  The mother bear licks them clean, keeps them warm and…

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Black Bear Range

Black bears historically ranged over most of the forested regions of North America, including all Canadian provinces, Alaska, all states in the conterminous United States, and significant portions of northern…

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Classification of Black Bears

 Ursus americanus  Kingdom: Animal  Phylum: Chordata  Class: Mammalia  Subclass: Theria  Infraclass: Eutheria  Order: Carnivora  Suborder: Fissipedia  Family: Ursidae  Subfamily: Ursinae (all living bears except giant panda and the spectacled bear)…

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Typical weights Males of breeding age: 125-500 lbs or more Females of breeding age: 90-300 lbs or more Records Male: 880 lbs (399 kgs), Craven Co., NC, 1998 or 902…

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Size and Appearance

General: Black bears are 4 to 7 feet from nose to tail, 2 to 3 feet high at the shoulders, and have small eyes, rounded ears, a long snout, a…

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Skull of a Black Bear

Saggital crest:  This protrusion is for attachment of chewing muscles.  Animals with a large saggital crest have a powerful bite.  The saggital crest is much bigger on male black bears…

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How to Age a Bear

The most accurate way to tell the age of a bear is to count the rings in a cross section of a tooth root using a microscope. This cross-section is…

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Activities and Social Organization

Daily Activity Period: Most bears become active a half-hour before sunrise, take a nap or two during the day, and bed down for the night an hour or two after…

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Senses and Abilities

Vision:  Bears see in color and have sharp vision close-up.  Their distance vision (over two hundred yards) has not been tested. Hearing:  Hearing is the black bear’s first line of…

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Adaptations for Seasons of Food Scarcity

A stocky body for carrying fat and minimizing heat loss in winter Ability to grow dense insulating fur Ability to accumulate excess fat when food is available and remain healthy…

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Food and Habitat

Preferred Foods: Nuts, acorns, fruit, insects, succulent greens. Meat and less succulent greens are eaten when preferred foods are scarce. A scarcity of preferred foods can result in failed reproduction,…

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Mating season: Late May through June in northeastern Minnesota but into August in eastern and southern states. Males are ready to mate throughout that period but each female is ready…

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Longevity and Causes of Death

Potential Longevity (lifespan): Black bears can live 21-39 1/2 years or more if they are not killed. Causes of Death: In Minnesota, black bears less than 16-17 months old typically…

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Vision: Bears see in color and have good close-up vision. Distance vision (over 200 yards) untested. Hearing: Exceeds human frequency ranges and is probably twice the sensitivity. Smelling: Smelling ability…

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Living with Bears: Many people are moving into black bear habitat. The bears’ future depends on how well we understand and tolerate them. Misconceptions: People have demonized bears in many…

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Black Bear Color Phases

Black bears come in more colors than any other North American mammal. They can be black, brown, cinnamon, blond, blue-gray, or white. East of the Great Plains, nearly all are…

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How Did White Fur Become Established?

How did white fur become established among the black bears of Princess Royal and Gribbell Islands? No one really knows, but the thinking, in general, goes like this.  Mutations frequently…

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What is a Spirit Bear?

Spirit bears are rare black bears with white or creamy fur, brown eyes, dark nose pads, and nearly white claws.  They are not polar bears or albinos.  Maybe 100 exist….

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Maskwa – the Little White Cub

  Maskwa, Cree for bear, is the name Manitoba wildlife officials gave to this rare white cub because of her significance to Native Americans. These pictures have circulated on the…

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How High Can a Black Bear Reach?

  The bear on the left, a medium-sized male reaching for the backpack is taller than most female black bears.  He stands about 6 feet to the tip of his…

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Bear standing agains pine tree trunk

Are Bears Related to Pigs?

No more than people are related to bears or pigs. Bears, pigs, and people all have omnivorous diets. They all have broad “bunodont” cheek teeth to crush a variety of…

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Are Black Bears Like Dogs?

No Dogs can be aggressive, territorial, and prone to attack. Black bears are generally restrained, non-territorial toward people, and prone to retreat. Many people imagine bears as oversize attack dogs…

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How Timid Are Black Bears?

Black bears are ruled by fear and food—in that order. Researchers are frequently amazed at how cautious these powerful animals are about tiny unidentified rustling sounds of red squirrels, mice,…

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How to Tell Black Bears from Brown/Grizzly Bears

Color is not reliable for differentiating brown bears from black bears because both species have many color phases. Black bears occur in many hues of brown, and even shades of…

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