Black bears are the most well known bears in North America.1 They’re also the smallest of all the bears in this region, and are native to North America. They aren't found anywhere else in the world.2 They live throughout Canada and the United States, including Alaska.3
Their fur can come in a variety of colors. In the East, they’re usually black, while in the West, their fur may be more brown. Some black bears can actually have white fur – they’re mostly found in British Columbia, Canada. All of these bears have short claws that cannot be retracted like a cat’s can.2
These bears have an extremely flexible diet, which enables them to live in many different habitats.3 Much of what they eat includes berries, insects, roots, and fish, but they also are known to eat carrion (already dead animals) and many have started to eat human food and garbage.1 This can easily change a bear’s behavior and make them more vulnerable in the wild or a threat to humans – so make sure you don’t feed any bears when you’re out camping!
Most of the time, these animals are solitary, except when mating or raising cubs. Mating season is usually around May or June. However, after mating, the embryo isn’t implanted in the uterus right away. There’s a process called delayed implantation that occurs in all bears, in which implantation doesn’t happen until the fall. This helps make sure that the female bear is in proper condition to carry out the pregnancy and energy isn’t wasted.3
Check out our favorite bear sanctuaries and other resources to learn more in our article here!