Black Bear
Ursus americanus

Also called AMERICAN BEAR (Ursus americanus), forest-dwelling bear (family Ursidae) that has been reduced in population and range but is still the most common North American bear. The cinnamon bear and the blue-gray or blue-black glacier bear represent colour phases of this species. The American black bear probably constitutes only one species, rather than the more than 80 described "species," which are perhaps only subspecies' variants of the grizzly, or brown, bear. The adult ranges from 150 to 180 cm (about 5 to 6 feet) in length and weighs 90-270 kg (200-600 pounds). Regardless of coat colour, it may be recognized by its brown face and, usually, a white chest mark. Besides animal prey, including mammals and fish, the black bear eats a variety of vegetable matter, such as pine cones, berries, and roots, and it frequently raids campsites, seizing anything edible. The black bear may be tamed and taught various tricks, but it often becomes dangerous when mature. A litter of one to four cubs, which often differ in colour, follows the gestation period of 100-215 days. The female breeds every second year.

Copyright 1994-1998 Encyclopaedia Britannica