Koda Bear
Poka Bear

Size and Appearance: The American Black bear has an overall head and body length of 5-6 feet and an additional tail length of 4.6 inches, and stands almost 3 feet at the shoulder. Asmentioned above, the coat color vaires throughout its range, and cubs from one litter can each be different colors. Compared to the Grizzly, the American Black has a shorter more uniform pelage, as well as shorter claws and hind feet. It also has a less sloping backline than the Grizzly. Males can weigh 240-575 pounds, and females 200-275 pounds.

Habitat: Forest and woodland.

Distribution: N. Mexico and N. California to Alaska and across to Graet Lakes. Newfoundland and Appalachians: Isolated populations include Florida - N. Gulf Coast.

Reproduction and Offspring: Females will give birth every other year, but they sometimes wait more like every 3-4 years. Mating season takes place from mid-June to July, and the actual pregnancy typically lasts 220 days, however, there is delayed implantation. Embryonic development only occurs in the last 10 weeks of pregnancy. Birhs are typically in January and February, while the female is hibernating. Litters can vary from 1-5, but 2 or 3 is most common. The are born weighing around 7.8-10.4 ounces each, and are blind and naked. They will be weaned around 6-8 months old but will stay with their mothers for the next 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 years. Females reach sexual maturity around 4-5 years old, and males a year later.

In the wild, these bears have some of the greatest ages recorded with up to32 years on record. Unknown in captivity, but old zoo records indicate around 26 years.

Social System and Communication: Typically solitary, but they will frequently congregate at large food sources, such as garbage dumps, although they will still stay out of each others way. They have a variety of vocalizations, such as a "woof" when startled, and cubs who are lonely or frightened will utter shrill howls.

Hunting and Diet: 75% of their diet is comprised of vegetable matter - especially fruits, berries, nuts, acorns, grass and roots. In some areas, they will peel the bark from a tree to ingest sapwood. They also eat insects, fish, rodents, carrion, and ocassionally large mammals. These bears are expert tree climbers and swimmers. They require 11-18 pounds of food per day.

Hibernation: Hibernation for these bears can begin as early as October and last until May. During this time, their body temperature drops from 100° to 86-92°, the respiration slows and the metabolic rate is depressed. In the southern regions, hibernation may be interrupted by excursions outside during periods of relatively warm weather.

Principal Threats: Man. These bears have been hunted intensively because of fear, to prevent predation on domestic animals and crops, for sport and to obtain fur and meat. Typically, in North America, an estimated 30,000 bears are hunted for sport each year. They are also illegally hunted for their parts for use in the asian medicine market.

Status: CITES Appendix II