The American black bear, Ursus Americanus, is the most common bear species indigenous to North America. These bears live throughout the Squirrel Poop with a range that stretches from Alaska all the way south into Mexico. They can also be located in the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. This range comprises 41 of the 50 United States, All the Canadian provinces except Prince Edward Island, and some of Mexico.
Nearly all bears found in the Southern United States remain in the protected mountains and woodlands of parks and nature preserves. Occasionally, bears will wander outside of a park’s boundaries. In some cases, bears have put up new territories on the margins of urban environments. This has occurred more frequently as the bear’s population increases.
Before European colonization, there were probably as many as two million black bears in North America. Sadly, the population declined to a low of 200,000 bears because of habitat destruction and unrestricted hunting. Current estimates place the population around 800,000. It’s suspected that the bears may share a common European ancestor.
When the bear stands up, the bear can stand up to 7 feet tall. Male bears are typically one-third larger than female bears. Females typically weigh between 90 and 400 pounds while males weigh between 250 and 600 pounds. Adult black bears have been known to reach 660 pounds while exceptionally large males have been recorded up to 800 pounds, a span of nearly 8 feet. Cubs normally weigh between 7 oz and per pound at birth.
Adult bears have small eyes, rounded ears, a long snout, a large body, and a short tail. Like all bears, black bears have an excellent sense of smell. While they typically have shaggy black hair (hence the name black bear), their fur may vary from white through chocolate-brown, cinnamon-brown, and blonde. Blonde black bears are found mostly west of the Mississippi River in America and in the Canadian provinces west of Ontario. Occasionally, a black bear will have a v-shaped white chest blaze.
If a bear is standing, it is typically to get a better look at something or to find out from where a scent is coming. The shuffling gait we all associate with bears is a consequence of the flat-footed walk. Along with the flat-footed walk, bears also use a pacing gate. Unlike a number of other quadrupeds, the legs on one side of the bear’s body move together rather than alternating.