American black bear

(Ursus americanus)

Conservation Status
American black bear
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed


American black bear is a large, common though rarely seen, solitary, omnivorous mammal. It is usually 5 to 6 in length, 2 to 3 in height at the shoulders, and weighs 200 to 475 or more pounds. The male is much larger than the female.

In Minnesota the black bear is usually black with a pale brown muzzle and usually a small white chest spot. About six percent of the bears in Minnesota are “non-black” color morphs (Rounds, 1987). These can be brown, cinnamon, or yellowish brown, and can occur within populations and even within litters.




Head and body: 5 to 6






Similar Species

  No similar species  

Forests, swamps, wooded areas.








18 to 23 years or more


Life Cycle


Male territories overlap those of several females. Breeding takes place in June and July. Females give birth usually every 2 years, sometimes waiting 3 or 4 years. The gestation period is about 220 days.

A litter of 1 to 5, usually 2 or 3, cubs ar born in January or February when the female is in hibernation. The cubs remain with their mother about 17 months, sharing her den in their second winter.

Lifespan in the wild can be up to 30 years, but average lifespan is 10 years due to interaction with humans, including hunting.




Inner tree bark, grasses, and forbs in the spring; nuts, roots, berries, grasses, buds, colonial insects, beetles, small mammals, carrion, fish, and garbage in summer and fall; nothing in the winter.


Distribution Map



4, 7, 24, 29, 30, 76.




Locally common

There are about 20,000 American black bears in the state.

  Class Mammalia (mammals)  
  Subclass Theria  
  Infraclass Eutheria (placental mammals)  
  Magnorder Boreoeutheria  
  Superorder Laurasiatheria (ungulates, carnivorans, and allies)  
  Order Carnivora (carnivorans)  
  Suborder Caniformia (dog-like carnivores)  


Ursidae (bears)  


Ursinae (typical bears)  


Ursus (holarctic bears)  

Subordinate Taxa


California black bear (Ursus americanus californiensis)

cinnamon bear (Ursus americanus cinnamomum)

Dall black bear (Ursus americanus pugnax)

East Mexican black bear (Ursus americanus eremicus)

Florida black bear (Ursus americanus floridanus)

glacier bear (Ursus americanus emmonsii)

Kenai black bear (Ursus americanus perniger)

Kermode bear (Ursus americanus kermodei)

Louisiana black bear (Ursus americanus luteolus)

Minnesota black bear, eastern black bear (Ursus americanus americanus)

New Foundland bear (Ursus americanus hamiltoni)

New Mexico black bear (Ursus americanus amblyceps)

Olympic black bear (Ursus americanus altifrontalis)

Queen Charlotte black bear (Ursus americanus carlottae)

Vancouver black bear (Ursus americanus vancouveri)

West Mexico black bear (Ursus americanus machetes)






Common Names


American black bear

eastern black bear








Visitor Photos

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Bobbi Johnson

    American black bear   American black bear  

Ramona Abrego


Wild bear on Gunflint Trail …

    American black bear   American black bear  
    American black bear      

… and one captive bear at Wildlife Science Center

    American black bear      

Christa Rittberg

    American black bear   American black bear  

Brown color morph

    American black bear   American black bear  


    American black bear   American black bear  



  Black Bear
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Black Bear  

Ursus americanus

Bears I have seen (only one as of 5/5/09)

  Ursus americanus (American Black Bear)
Allen Chartier
  Ursus americanus (American Black Bear)  
  Black Bears
Ashley Hockenberry
  Black Bears  
  Black Bears
Larry W. Brown
  Black Bears  



Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  North American Black Bear - Ursus americanus - YouTube

Published on Sep 8, 2012

Adult males black bears weigh between 57--250 kg (130--550 lb), while females weigh about 41--170 kg (90--370 lb)

We found this black bear along Hardy Creek in British Columbia doing what bears do, searching for anything to eat. Berries at first and then on to the main course kokanee (sockeye) salmon fresh from the stream. .

Up to 85% of the black bear's diet consists of vegetation. The majority of the black bear's animal diet consists of insects such as bees, yellow-jackets, ants and their larvae. Black bears will fish for salmon during the night, as their black fur is easily spotted by salmon in the daytime.

We were truly lucky to witness this bear so close to us foraging for food.

The total Canadian black bear population is between 396,000 and 476,000.

Black bears rarely attack when confronted by humans, and usually limit themselves to making mock charges, emitting blowing noises and swatting the ground with their forepaws. However, 23 people were killed by black bears between 1900 to 1980.

  Black Bears at the American Bear Association - Orr, Minnesota

Published on Mar 7, 2012

"Best place in North America to view wild bears" Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary has preserved a unique opportunity to view and to photograph the intimate world of the normally reclusive black bear. Around 80+ black bears visit the sanctuary each season, including large boars, sows with cubs, yearlings and sub-adults. The American Bear Association offer a variety of scheduled workshops (as well as private) to photograph this normally shy and reclusive animal.

Nestled in the North Woods of Minnesota, the Sanctuary consists of 360 acres of forested land located approximately two hours northwest of Duluth. Check us out online at or visit the black bears in their natural behavior!




Visitor Sightings

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Location:  Zumbrota

looked dark brown. It looked like it was a „larger“ cub sitting by electrical box between my house. I went to get my mail & just stared at me. Then saw it run across street into a small wooded area.
Wish I had a camera with me!

It was NOT a dog, possum, raccoon-a bear cub

  Ramona Abrego

Location: Gunflint Trail

American black bear  
  Ramona Abrego

Location: Wildlife Science Center

American black bear  




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