Wildthings Public Wildlife Education

Bears of North American


     There are 8 main groups of bears in the world.  North American Bears is a 2 part series on the 2 out of 3 types of bears located within the landmass of North America.  The Black Bear, Brown or Grizzly Bear, & the Polar Bear, the Polar Bear is the one we're not going to cover in this series.

 Black Bears

    If you live in North America chances are that sometime in your life you may see a bear.  Most of us seem to have an abundance of them.  That's good I guess....since North America is the only place in the world our Black Bear lives.  First we will cover the thing everyone wants to know "is a Black Bear really a Brown Bear?".  In the "gene pool" of things a Black Bear and a Brown Bear are different species of bears.  A Brown Bear is a Grizzly Bear, they are one of the same.  OK, back to our poor Black Bear....This is the guy that gets all the bad publicity, and usually for something he did do. 

    The Black Bear can be found in 40 of the States and Canada.

    The bad thing with calling something a "Black Bear" is that it implies the creature will be .....well, a "Black Bear".  A Black Bear can be Black, or white (rarer), or about any color in between.  With the normal range being between Cinnamon to Dark Brown.  They can get up to 6 ft high and weigh in between 200-600 lbs (depending on age and sex), and live for 20 years.  If there is no interference from man.  Most bear deaths are human related; hunting, hit by a car, shot for being a nuisance animal.

     Black Bears den about anywhere.  They may pick a tree, cave,  burrows, brushpiles or anywhere they think they might be able to pull off a long undisturbed nap away from the weather.

    Hibernation calls to all Black Bears.  The duration of hibernation depends on the region they live in.  The longer and colder the winter the longer the nap.  Places farther south the Bear may wake up a time or two during the winter if the winter is mild.  When a bear is in true hibernation it will not drink, eat, urinate, or defecate.  Impending hibernation is what drives bears to being obnoxious over the eating issue.  They have to cram as many calories in before they hibernate so they can live off fat reserves.  Then they wake up and the cycle begins again.

     The female has 2-3 blind and helpless cubs mid-winter.  The cubs will stay with her for about 2 years to learn the ropes of being a "bear".    

     A bears diet.......

     Bears are whats called "opportunistic" eaters.  That means they will try a bite of just about everything!  Though their natural diet consists of grasses, berries, nuts, fruits, roots, and insects, they can develop a taste for roadkill or..... trash.  Unfortunately a bear that eats out of the trash has/is losing their fear of humans.  Thats dangerous when the animal is over 200 lbs.  That means an "imprinted" bear or another words ....... a dead bear.  Here in Colorado that means the Division of Wildlife is going to come and move him the first time and shoot him the second time he is found in town or around your trash.....PLEASE KEEP THAT IN MIND!!!

    This is where YOU have the POWER!!  All you have to do is keep the trash up, keep the dog/cat food up, be "BEAR AWARE" then you helped save a life ..... maybe several lives.