National Geographic Society

  • Connect:

Bad News Black Bears Facts

Black bear cub in the snow.  The temperatures are sub zero, and the woods are buried in two feet of snow.

Black bear cub in the snow. The temperatures are sub zero, and the woods are buried in two feet of snow. (View larger version)

Photograph by Lynn Rogers

Published
  • Newborn cubs are smaller, relative to their mother's size, than the young of any other placental mammal.

  • A black bear cub grow rapidly. At birth a cub weighs about three-quarters of a pound, and when they emerge from the den they average six pounds.

  • The American Black Bear has a large global population, estimated at more than twice that of all other species of bears combined.

  • The total number of black bears in North America is likely within the range 850,000–950,000.

  • There are roughly 20,000 black bears in Minnesota.

  • The most accurate way to tell the age of a bear is to count the rings in a cross section of a tooth root using a microscope.

  • The length and depth of hibernation is genetically programmed to match the regional norms of food availability. Hibernation is deeper and can last over 7 months in the northern portion of the black bear range where abundant, high quality food is available only from May through August. However, in southern states where food is available year-round, some do not hibernate at all, and those that do are easily aroused.

  • The average black bear litter is two or three cubs. The record is six in Pennsylvania.

  • Black bears shed their footpads during hibernation and when they first emerge in spring their new footpads can be quite tender.

  • Newborn cubs are smaller, relative to their mother's size, than the young of any other placental mammal.

  • Black bears have two kinds of fur on their back—visible guard hairs about 3 inches long and, in winter, a hidden layer of fine underfur so dense that water can scarcely penetrate it.

  • Taxonomists generally separate black bears into 16 subspecies based on minor differences in appearance and DNA.

  • Black bears can live 21-33 years or more if they are not killed.

  • Getting fat is very important for bears, especially females, whose reporductive success will be effected if they are too lean. In 1991, a black bear was recorded eating over 4,000 hazelnuts in a 24 hour period (about 12 pounds, over 12,000 calories).

  • Black bears have 42 teeth adapted to an omnivorous diet of vegetation, nuts, berries, insects, and some meat.

0 comments