Black bears (Ursus americanus) are the most widely distributed mammal in British Columbia’s forests. Experts estimate the BC black bear population to be between 120,000 and 160,000. Black bears have short, stout bodies, small black eyes, rounded ears, short tails and straight facial profiles. Their feet are flat-soled and have five toes, naked pads and sharp curved claws. Black bears can be distinguished from grizzlies by their facial profiles, shoulders, smaller size and shorter claws. They typically hibernate for three to seven months, depending on their geographical location and food supply.
Despite their name, black bears can be blue-gray or blue-black, brown, cinnamon, or even (very rarely) white. Black bears have very diverse diets, consuming vegetable matter in the spring and summer and small mammals throughout the year. In the spring, black bears prey on young deer, elk, moose and caribou. In the summer, they feed on insects, fruits, berries, and salmon. The black bear is the smallest member of the bear family found in North America. Adult black bears vary in size from 120 to 660 lbs (55 to 300 kg).
Photo Credit: Frank Leung