American Black Bear
Ursus americanus

CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Carnivora
FAMILY: Ursidae

200-500 lbs.; length of head and body is six feet

North America lowlands; swamps in Louisiana and national forests in California

Any type of woodland; rarely leaves forests

Wild - Berries, grass, ants, rodents, honey, fish, frogs -- Omnivorous
Zoo - Biscuits, carrots, apples, sometimes meat and fish

Most are black, but it is quite common to see brown, gray, or pale beige members of this species. White phase is rare. It has a true, very short 4 - 5 inch tail.


  • Short curved claws for fighting, climbing, and catching food. Speed and strength are unbelievable and can climb trees almost as fast as a squirrel. Good swimmer also.
  • Solitary animal and is active both day and night. Sexes come together to mate during summer.
  • Opportunist and very unpredictable. Because of man's encroachment and the bear's demand for large amounts of vegetable matter, bears will sometimes wander into civilized areas in search of food. However, they are not considered antagonistic.
  • In autumn it enters a state of lethargy, but not true hibernation, which varies depending on the climate conditions outside. Winter is usually spent in a cave or beneath a large fallen tree. (In very cold regions, they may sleep in a den for up to 6 months. This very deep sleep is considered hibernation.)
  • 30+ years in life span; enemies are man (there is still a hunting season for black bear.)

1 - 4 (usually 2) cubs born during winter; weight 0.5 pound each. Born blind and covered with hair.

CITES App. II; THREATENED due to habitat loss and negative attitude toward the bear which still exists today and has resulted in overkill of species. In Louisiana black bears are found predominatly in Tensas Parish and the Atchafalaya although sighted in other parts of Louisiana also. Louisiana subspecies: Ursus americanus luteolus