Black bears are the most common bear living in the United States. They are one of the most popular animals around. Bear references are made in many Native American legends, children’s songs, books, and cartoons. Find out more interesting facts about them with these American Black Bear Facts for Kids.
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What is an American Black Bear?
American Black Bears are mammals meaning that they have hair/fur, breathe air, are warm-blooded, and give birth to their young. Humans are also mammals. There are three different bear species that live in North America: the Polar Bear, Grizzly Bear, and Black Bear.
The black bear is the most common bear and can be found in most U.S states. In fact, black bears live in 41 out of our 50 states.
The states that do not have regular black bear sightings include Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Black bears also live in Canada.
What do Black Bears Look Like?
People may think that a black bear is only black but this isn’t true. A black bear’s fur can also be dark brown, or light brown and a species of black bear in Canada has bluish-white fur. They have many layers of fur to keep them warm in cold climates.
A black bear is usually between 5Ft-7Ft long from head to tail and 2ft-3ft tall. Black bears weigh between 100-500 pounds. Females are smaller than males. Females usually weigh between 100-350 pounds, males typically weigh between 130-500 pounds sometimes more. Black bears may look fat or chubby but they are strong and muscular animals.
They have an excellent sense of smell. They can smell food on a grill from a mile away, and they can trace the scent of a human from a footprint Bears usually eat food from nature but some have overcome their fear of humans and will get food from garbage cans or left at campsites. Bears may look cute but can be very dangerous. You should never try to feed a bear out in the wild.
What do Black Bears Eat?
Black bears are omnivores meaning they eat both plants and meat. They spend a large portion of their day eating. If a bear is getting ready for hibernation, it may eat up to 20,000 calories a day to put on weight. During Spring a bear will eat around 5,000 calories a day.
Black bears eat grasses, roots, berries, insects, fish, honey, carrion (dead fish), and sometimes small deer. Black bears are also known to eat food out of garbage cans.
Where do Black Bears Live?
They live in the U.S including Alaska, Canada, and Mexico. Black bears are the most common bear in the U.S. There are over 300,000 black bears living in the United States. Black bears are found in almost all forests in the U.S. They may also live in mountains or swamps.
Black Bear Behaviors
Black bears stay to themselves and don’t usually interact with other bears. Black bears can live to be 20 years old. They have sharp claws that help them climb trees, in fact, bears are excellent climbers and can climb up 100ft tree in about 30 seconds. Black bears have a great sense of smell and are good swimmers. Black bears are able to stand and walk on their hind legs. Black bears are fast runners and can run 40 miles per hour.
A baby black bear is called a cub. Cubs are born in January or February. A Mother bears usually give birth to 2-3 cubs but can have up to 6. Cubs are 1 pound when they are born, they have no hair are blind and completely depended on their mother. A baby cub stays with its mother for two years, then they go off on their own.
Bears are hibernators. Hibernators are animals that hibernate. To hibernate means to go into a long deep sleep. Animals that hibernate do so during the winter months to deal with the harsh weather conditions and cold climates.
During hibernation, an animal finds a safe place to sleep this usually includes underground homes or caves. An animal’s heart rate will slow down and it will live off the stored fat in its body.
Some animals that hibernate include woodchucks, turtles, snakes, ground squirrels, bees, hedgehogs, and bats. Black bears hibernate from November through March. Black bears hibernate in dens located in empty tree trunks, caves, or under logs.
Not all black bears hibernate. Some bears that live in warmer climates and have a good yearly food supply will not hibernate. While hibernating bears
live off stored fats in their body from the food they ate during the year.
Bears have been portrayed in stories and legends in books for generations. Here is a list of popular bears
Yogi Bear: A cartoon bear in Hanna Barbera cartoons.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears: classic children’s story
Winnie the Pooh: Children’s stories and Disney cartoon
Paddington Bear: Bear from classic children’s books
Fozzie: Muppet character
Baloo: Bear in the Disney movie Jungle Book
Brother Bear: Children’s movie
Native American Bear Legends
In Native American cultures bears play an important role in storytelling and ceremonies. Here is a list of some Native American legends that reference bears
The Hunting of the Great Bear: This is an Iroquois legend about four hunters, a dog, and a bear who became a constellation
A Bear Tale: This is a Wabanaki Indian legend about a boy who was adopted by a bear family.
Brother Bear: A Dene legend about a lost man who went a lived with bears.
Mi’Kmaq Bear Story: a Mi’Kmaq myth about a bear’s journey to bring medicine to the people.
How the Bear Lost His Tail: An Ojibwe legend about an otter tricking a bear to look at its tail.