Black Bear 
(Ursa Americanus)

Quick Facts

Black bears are carnivores but eat vegetation, insects, small mammals, fish, fruits and 

Black bears live in most parts of North America, in forests, swamps and woody areas.

Females mate at 3 years of age. They produce 1 litter, every second year.

Baby bears are born in early winter; they weigh only 220 grams ( pound.)

Young bears stay with their mothers for their first year.

In winter, bears hibernate, which is sort of like sleeping.


The Black Bear is found all over North America. From Alaska, over most of Canada and south through many parts of the United States to Mexico, there aren't many places a bear won't call home.  The black bear's habitat in the East is forests and swamps, but in the West, it is found in forests and wooded mountain areas.

This handsome fellow changes his looks from place to place. In the East, the bear's fur is nearly black, but in the West, it ranges from black to cinnamon, with a white blaze on the chest. In Alaska, there is a "blue" phase and on Gribble Island, British Columbia, some Black Bears are nearly white! The bear has a snout that is tan coloured or grizzled. 

Male bears are much larger than females, and adults can weigh anywhere from 92-267 kilograms (203-595 pounds) . How do they get that big? You'd never guess by looking at their diet! Though the black bear is a carnivore, it eats mostly vegetation a lot of vegetation.

Black bear adults are solitary and males and females only come together for a month, when they court and mate. Mating occurs in June or early July, but the young aren't born until January or early February. The bear fattens up all summer and fall and then hibernates in a protected area. It sleeps the winter away, but the sleep isn't deep and the bear's temperature falls only a few degrees below normal. The female gives birth to her cubs while hibernating. She produces a litter every other year, starting when she is three years old. Most females have one cub the first winter, and two when they breed next. The cubs are very small, weighing 220 grams ( pound) at birth. The newborns are almost naked. They snuggle into mom's fur to keep warm. She often lies on her back or side to nurse, but sometimes she sits on her haunches. Then, the cubs sit on her lap, just like human babies.

In early spring, the bear family wakes up. Of course, the first thing on their minds is FOOD. The mother bear teaches her cubs how to forage and how to avoid dangers.  Mother bears are very protective of their young and can be dangerous and aggressive. The little bears stay with their mother and hibernate with her the following winter. In spring, the cubs leave their mother, setting off on adventures of their own.

[ more on Black Bears]


IWRC Home Page Camp Cottontail Wildlife Facts All About Mammals Back to Carnivores



Black Bear 

Prepared for IWRC by:

Astrid and Joe MacLeod, Manitoba, Canada, where they share their territory with lots of black bears!

Photos by:

Joe MacLeod, Manitoba, Canada
Corel Photo CD, Series