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American Black Bear

American Black Bear


American Black Bear Baby
American Black Bear Baby

American Black Bear Habits

The American Black Bear lives primarily in woodland habitats and spends much of its time looking for food. The female ranges over an area of 1 to 35 square miles, whereas the male may have a territory of up to 200 square miles. The female does not share her territory, but the territory of a male may overlap with other males. Confrontations are rare, and black bears are thought to avoid open country, where they are more likely to encounter the stronger, more aggressive grizzly bear.
The American Black Bear is the most active at night but also forages during the day, particularily when it is feeding heavily in the fall to prepare for a winter of inactivity.
As cold weather approaches, the American black bear searches for a protected spot for its den. It may be under a fallen tree,in a hollow log, in a cave, or in a burrow that it digs,sometimes under the snow. Although its body temperature drops, its respiration slows,and its metabolic rate is depressed, the bear is not a true hibernator; it remains semiconsious the entire winter. When it emerges from its den in May it is thin and extremely hungry.
The American black bear was hunted widely inthe past, although it is now a partially protected species in Canada and the United States.It is especially popular visiters to Yellowstone National Park, where it romes among their cars and trashcans,looking for food.
The black bears reputation dates back to the beginning of this century. President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt captured a black bear on a hunting trip. He kept it as a pet, and a toy manufacturer used it as a model for the first teddy bear.

American Black Bear Communication

Black bears are not animals that vocalize often, but they do have some sounds that they make. Most of their vocalizations sound like grunts, moans or loud blowing which they use when interacting with other bears, or on occasion with humans. Cubs have a sound of contentment, similar to the purring of a cat, that they use when nursing. Cubs also have a distress call which sounds like loud bawling.
Black bears are solitary animals, with the exception of sows with cubs, yet they have developed an intricate method of communicating with one another through various means, such as scent-marking vegetation. This behaviour broadcasts to other bears in the vicinity the status and sex of each animal, and during the mating season, the breeding condition of females. Interestingly, when a major food source is available, such as a field of ripe huckleberries, bears will communicate amongst themselves the site location. Large numbers of animals can congregate in these areas to share the bounty. Once the food is gone, the animals then disperse and return to their home ranges. Black bears will rub up against trees, straddle smaller shrubs and saplings, and arch their backs to mark overhanging branches, in order to leave scent. The males, in particular, will also leave urine marks. Female black bears have long vulva hair that is usually moist or wet with urine. This longer hair helps facilitate any markings that they make. During the breeding season, both sexes will do genital drags on the ground or on logs.

American Black Bear Breeding

The American black bear mates in June and July. The female gives birth only every two to four years.
Although the egg is fertilized during mating, it is not implanted into the uterus until fall, which means that the embryo developes only during the last 15 weeks of the gestion period. Since the birth takes place in January or February the cubs are mature enough to leave the den in the spring.
The female gives birth to two to three cubs weighing no more than 12 ounces. They are naked and blind, and they spend the cold winter months in the den where they are fed and kept warm by their mother. By May, their coats are grown and their eyes are open. They are not weaned until they are 6 to 8 months old, and they spend their second winter in their mothers den, becoming independnt the following spring or early summer.

American Black Bear Food & Feeding

Although the American black bear is classified as a carnivore, it only occaisionally eats meat. It feeds primarily on vegetation, including twigs, buds,leaves, nuts, roots, fruit, corn, and plant shoots. In spring when it is particularly hungry after having spent aninactive winter, it tears the bark from trees to eat the layer known as cambium> located just beneath the surface. It also rips into rotting logs with its claws,looking for small insects and grubs. Black bear often climb trees to raid birds nests for eggs and to tear open beehives to eat honeycombs, bees,and larvae. They also eat small mammals like porcupines.
Black bears hunt fish in streams and rivers. They fish by diving or wading in the water, where they catch the fish with their paws or teeth.
Bears often disturb the landscape in areas where they feed. While searching for food, they turn over logs and stones, rip open tree stumps, and tear branches off trees.

American Black Bear Key Facts

              Height: Length: 4-6 feet
              Weight: 100-300lbs. Male is much larger than female
             Sexual maturity: Male 5-6 years.Female, 4-5 years
             Mating: June to mid-July
             Gestation: 220 days
             Number of young: Up to 5; usually 2 or 3
            Habit: Generally solitary
            Diet: All types of vegetation and plant material,fish small mammals, and carrion
            Lifespan: About 25 years



  • The American black bear has been known to knock mountain goats from rocky ledges to kill them.
  • Zoologists can determine the age of a bear by cutting crosswise through its tooth and counting the rings, which are similar to the annual rings found in a tree.
  • Seven hundred American black bears were slaughtered in Canada in 1953 to provide bearskin hats for British soldiers in Queen Elizabeth 11's coronation.
  • Black bears tend to walk in their own tracks, so their area can have a trail of sunken footprints beaten into the forest floor from repeated and long-term use.
  • Black bears sometimes raid commerical beehives.

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