Montana Black Bears

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American Black Bears

Ursus americanus

Black bears are the smallest bears in North America and the average adult weighs 300-400 pounds, but the largest known black bear tilted the scales at 802.5 pounds. The oldest black bear on record lived to be 30 years old.  Black bears come in many shapes, sizes and even colors (other than black). 

Although named for their color, black bears can be brown and cinnamon in color and some can have white patches on their chest.  In general, bears in the Western part of the United States tend to be of the brown variety, whereas those in the East are more likely to be black.  While originating in Asia, black bears migrated to North America and it is estimated that there are as many as 500,000 black bears. 

On average, a female is 5 years old before she has cubs and the male is 4 years old before he breeds.  There is a bond between the male and the female during mating season and bear mothers develop a strong relationship with their cubs.  Most cubs weigh about 1/2 pound at birth and open their eyes when they are approximately 40 days old.  Cubs typically stay with mom for 1 to 1.5 years after birth and for their first full winter while mom teaches them how to hunt for food. 

Black bears are extremely territorial.  They are carnivores, but only a quarter of their diet is meat.  Mostly they eat plants and other vegetable matter.  They are solitary animals and are active in the morning, late evening and night.  Black bears have been documented running at speeds up to 30 mph. Contrary to most people's knowledge, black bears do not go into deep hibernation during the winter, but they do remain dormant. 

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