The American black bear (Ursus americanus) is one of the smallest bear species—probably the smallest of the North American bears. The bear inhabits throughout the forests of North America. American black bears are fairly common as there are hundreds and thousands of individuals worldwide.
Adult males weigh 126–551 pounds while females average 90–375 pounds in weight. The head-body length measures 120 to 200 cm and the shoulder height is about 70 to 105 cm. Black bears have 7.7–17.7 cm long tail.
They are widely distributed in the United States including northern Midwest, Georgia, Alaska, Rocky Mountain Region, southern Indiana, Texas, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Idaho.
American black bears make habitats in woodlands, dense vegetation, forests, dry meadows, riparian areas, Appalachian Mountains, spruce-fir forests, and terrains. The black bear’s habitat is abundant in coniferous, maple, and beech.
American black bears are omnivores. Much (85%) of the bear’s diet consists of vegetation. They will eat roots, tubers, grasses, corms, bulbs, buds, shoots, shrubs, insects, yellow jackets, bees, ants, honeycombs, salmon, trout, catfish, voles, and rodents.
As is typical of bears, the American black bear has pretty keen sense of smell—nearly 7 times that of a dog.
They are not only remarkable swimmers; black bears are also expert climbers. They often climb up the trees either to escape predators or to get some sleep.
American black bears begin to forage at night though they also become active during the daylight hours.
American black bears are able to run at 25 to 30 miles per hour.
The breeding season ranges from June to July. The female gives birth to 1 to 6 cubs after a long gestation period of 235 days. The newborn cubs are almost the size of a ground squirrel. Cubs weigh only 280–450 g at birth.
American black bears hibernate for as long as 3 – 8 months.
American black bears have a lifespan of 18 – 23 years in the wild. The oldest wild bear lived up to 39 years while the oldest captive bear ever recorded at 44 years.
Predators of American black bear’s cubs are wolves, bobcats, coyotes, brown bears, cougars, and golden eagles.
The population of Canadian black bears is about 396,000 – 476,000 while the United States is home to 339,000 and 465,000 American black bears.