My Bantam Lake

American Black Bear

Written on 06/27/2018

Ursus americanus

Throughout their range, prime black bear habitat is characterized by relatively inaccessible terrain, thick understory vegetation, and abundant sources of food in the form of shrub or tree-borne soft or hard mast.Black bears are usually black in color, particularly in eastern North America. They usually have a pale muzzle which contrasts with their darker fur and may sometimes have a white chest spot. Black bears are distinguished from grizzly or brown bears (Ursus arctos) by their longer, less heavily furred ears, smaller shoulder humps, and a convex, rather than concave, profile. Males and females meet temporarily for mating when females are in estrus. Male home ranges overlap with those of several females. Births occur mainly in January and February, commonly while the female is hibernating. The number of young per litter ranges from one to five and is usually two or three. Male black bears do not contribute directly to their offspring but do indirectly by preventing new males from moving into the area. This makes it less likely for the young or mother to encounter an aggressive male or have to compete with new bears for food.Black bears communicate with body and facial expressions, sounds, touch, and through scent marking. Throughout their range in North America, black bears consume primarily grasses and forbs in spring, soft mast in the form of shrub and tree-borne fruits in summer, and a mixture of hard and soft mast in fall. Only a small portion of the diet of bears consists of animal matter, and then primarily in the form of colonial insects and beetles. Most vertebrates are consumed in the form of carrion. Black bears are not active predators and feed on vertebrates only if the opportunity exists.


Source: Ursus americanus American Black Bear, Animal Diversity Web, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology