Black Bear - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Black Bear - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Black Bear - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Black Bear - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image 
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Black Bear
Ursus americanus

Bear Family (Ursidae)

Measurement: Size: 135-175 cm Weight: 100-150 kg

Description: Unlike it's larger and more infamous cousin, the black bear is actually far more wide ranging and in most areas, also more common. Most visitors to the Rockies expect the black bear to be, as its name implies, black. In reality, black bears can be any colour from black to white. Cinnamon and blonde coloured bears are quite common in the Rockies.

To differentiate black bears from grizzlies, look at the shoulders. Grizzlies have a distinctive shoulder hump, while black bears lack this hump. From a distance, the lack of a shoulder hump is one of the easiest ways to differentiate the two species. When you look at the face, the forehead of black bears is similar to a dogs, forming an almost straight line from the forehead to the tip of the nose. Grizzlies have a slightly dished in face.

Range: Black bears are found across most of Canada, and in isolated pockets in the northern and western United States. They are found throughout both the Canadian and American Rockies.

Diet: The diet of the black bear is almost exclusively composed of plants with a small amount of meat added to supplement their diet. Most of this meat is primarily composed of carrion, with very little in the way of fresh kill. Bears are not important predators, rather preferring to scavenge on carrion. Through the course of the season, they move through their range, looking for young succulent plants to feed upon. In spring, they can often be seen along side highways munching on dandelions. Later in the season, they reappear to feed on plentiful supplies of buffaloberries.

Reproduction: Mating takes place in the spring, but like the grizzly bear, they experience delayed implantation, with the fertilized egg floating freely in the uterus for up to six months. Come autumn, if the female is in healthy condition, the egg will implant and begin to develop. The sow gives birth to a tiny cub (often twins) during the winter siesta. The cubs remain with their mother through their first season, and will den with her that winter. Generally, the cubs are evicted in their second season. This restricts reproduction to every second year.

Notes: While black bears may be commonly seen along highways in the mountains, we must remember that they are wild animals. Please avoid the temptation to approach for photographs.

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All Material Ward Cameron 2005



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