⤷ Algonquin: makwa
⤷ Blackfoot: kiááyo
⤷ Carrier: sʌs
⤷ Cree: maskwa
⤷ Dene: tsah
⤷ Ojibwe: makwaa
⤷ Crow: daxpitchée
⤷ Gwich'in: shooh-zhraii
⤷ Hopi: hoonaw
⤷ Lakota : mato
⤷ Navajo: shash
⤷ Nez Perce: yáakaʼ
⤷ Sahaptin: yáka
⤷ Shoshone: wedaʼ
⤷ Tlingit: sʼeeḵ
⤷ Tsalagi: gv-ni-ge-yo-na
⤷ Nahuatl: tlācamāyeh
⤷ Tarahumara: ojuí
⤷ Guarijio: ohoí
⤷ Kiliwa: kmákan
⤷ Kickapoo: mahkwa
⤷ Yoreme: jóona
⤷ O'odham: judumi
The word ''baribal'' is used as a name for the black bear in Spanish, French, and Italian. Although the root word is popularly written as being from an unspecified Native American language, there is no evidence for this.Listed alphabetically.
DistributionHistorically, black bears occupied the majority of North America's forested regions. Today, they are primarily limited to sparsely settled, forested areas.
Black bears currently inhabit much of their original Canadian range, though they do not occur in the southern farmlands of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. They have been extinct in Prince Edward Island since 1937. The total Canadian black bear population is between 396,000 and 476,000, based on surveys taken in the mid 1990s in seven Canadian provinces, though this estimate excludes black bear populations in New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan. All provinces indicated stable populations of black bears over the last decade.
The current range of black bears in the United States is constant throughout most of the northeast , the northern midwest, the Rocky mountain region, the west coast and Alaska. However it becomes increasingly fragmented or absent in other regions. Despite this, black bears in those areas seems to have expanded their range during the last decade. Surveys taken from 35 states in the early 1990s indicate that black bears are either stable or increasing, excepting Idaho and New Mexico. The overall population of black bears in the United States has been estimated to range between 339,000 and 465,000, though this excludes populations from Alaska, Idaho, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming, whose population sizes are unknown.
As of 1993, known Mexican black bear populations existed in four areas, though knowledge on the distributions of populations outside those areas have not been updated since 1959. Mexico is the only country where the black bear is classed as endangered.
BehaviorIn his ''Great Bear Almanac'', Gary Brown lists 20 different sounds in eight different contexts. Sounds expressing aggression include growls, woofs, snorts, bellows and roars. Sounds expressing contentment include mumbles, squeaks and pants. American black bears tend to be territorial and non-gregarious in nature. They mark their territories by rubbing their bodies against trees and clawing at the bark. Black bears are excellent and strong swimmers, doing so for pleasure and to feed. Black bears climb regularly to feed, escape enemies or to hibernate. Their arboreal abilities tend to decline with age. Adult black bears are mostly nocturnal, but juveniles are often active in daytime.
ReproductionSows usually produce their first litter at the age of 3–5 years. Sows living in urban areas tend to get pregnant at younger ages. The breeding period usually occurs in the June–July period, though it can extend to August in the species' northern range. The breeding period lasts for 2–3 weeks. Sows tend to be short tempered with their mates after copulating. The gestation period lasts 235 days, and litters are usually born in late January to early February. Litters usually consist of two cubs, though litters of 6 have been recorded. At birth, cubs weigh 10–16 ounces , and measure 8 inches in length. They are born with fine, gray, downlike hair, and their hind quarters are underdeveloped. They typically open their eyes after 28–40 days, and begin walking after 5 weeks. Cubs are dependent on their mother's milk for 30 weeks, and will reach independence at 16–18 months. At the age of six weeks, they attain 2 lb, by 8 weeks they reach 5 lb and by the age of 6 months they weigh 40–60 lb. They reach sexual maturity at the age of three years, and attain their full growth at 5 years.
The average lifespan in the wild is 18 years. The record age of a wild specimen was 31 years, while that in captivity was 44 years.
FoodUp to 85% of the black bear's diet consists of vegetation, though they tend to dig less than brown bears, eating far fewer roots, bulbs, corms and tubers than the latter species. Young shoots from trees and shrubs during the spring period are important to black bears emerging from hibernation, as they assist in rebuilding muscle and strengthening the skeleton and are often the only digestible foods available at that time. Berries, fruits, grasses, nuts and buds are often eaten. During this period, they may also raid the nut caches of squirrels. Black bears are fond of honey, and will gnaw through trees if hives are too deeply set into the trunks for them to reach them with their paws. Once the hive is breached, black bears will scrape the honeycombs together with their paws and eat them, regardless of stings from the bees.
The majority of the black bear's animal diet consists of insects such as bees, yellow-jackets, ants and their larvae. Black bears will fish for salmon during the night, as their black fur is easily spotted by salmon in the daytime. However, the white furred black bears of the islands of western Canada have a 30% greater success rate in catching salmon than their black furred counterparts. They will also prey on mule and white-tailed deer fawns in certain areas. In addition they have been recorded preying on elk calves in Idaho and moose calves in Alaska. Black bear predation on adult deer is rare but has been recorded. They may hunt prey as large as adult moose, by ambushing them. Black bears often drag their prey to cover, preferring to feed in seclusion and frequently begin feeding on the udder of lactating females, but generally prefer meat from the viscera. The skin of large prey is stripped back and turned inside out with the skeleton usually left largely intact. Unlike wolves and coyotes, black bears rarely scatter the remains of their kills. Vegetation around the carcass is usually matted down by black bears and their droppings are frequently found nearby. Black bears may attempt to cover remains of larger carcasses, though they do not do so with the same frequency as cougars and grizzly bears. They may climb up to bald eagle nests to eat the eggs or chicks. Black bears have been reported stealing deer and other animals from human hunters.Historically, black bears were hunted by both Native Americans and European settlers. Some Native American tribes, in admiration for the black bear's intelligence, would decorate the heads of bears they killed with trinkets, and place them on blankets. Tobacco smoke would be wafted into the disembodied head's nostrils by the hunter that dealt the killing blow, and would compliment the animal for its courage. The Kutchin typically hunted black bears during their hibernation cycle. Unlike the hunting of hibernating grizzlies, which was wrought with danger, black bears took longer to awaken, and was thus safer and easier. During the European colonisation of eastern North America, thousands of black bears were hunted for their meat, fat and fur. Theodore Roosevelt wrote extensively on black bear hunting in his ''Hunting the Grisly and other sketches'', in which he stated "''in [a black bear] chase there is much excitement, and occasionally a slight spice of danger, just enough to render it attractive; so it has always been eagerly followed''". He wrote that black bears were difficult to hunt by stalking, due to their habitat preferences, though were easy to trap. Roosevelt described how in the Southern States, planters regularly hunted black bears on horseback with hounds. General Wade Hampton was known to have been present at 500 successful black bear hunts, two thirds of which he killed personally. He killed thirty or forty black bears with only a knife, which he would use to stab the bears between the shoulder blades while they were distracted by his hounds. Unless well trained, horses were often useless in black bear hunts, as they often bolted when the bears stood their ground. In 1799, 192,000 black bear skins were exported from Quebec. In 1822, 3,000 skins were exported from the Hudson's Bay Company. In 1992, untanned, fleshed and salted black bear hides were sold for an average of $165.
In Canada, black bears are considered as both a big game and furbearer species in all provinces save for New Brunswick and Northwest Territories, where they are only classed as a big game species. There are currently 80,822 licensed black bear hunters in all of Canada. Canadian black bear hunts take place in the fall and spring, and both male and female bears can be legally taken, though some provinces prohibit the hunting of females with cubs, or yearling specimens.
Currently, 28 of the USA's states have black bear hunting seasons. Nineteen states require a bear hunting license, with some also requiring a big game license. In eight states, only a big game license is required to hunt black bears. Overall over 481,500 black bear hunting licences are sold per year. The hunting methods and seasons vary greatly according to state, with some bear hunting seasons including fall only, spring and fall, or year-round. New Jersey, in November 2010, approved of a six-day bear-hunting season in early December 2010 to slow the growth of the black bear population. Bear-hunting had been banned in New Jersey for five years. A Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll found that 53% of New Jersey voters approved of the new season if scientists concluded black bears were leaving their usual habitats and destroying private property. Men, older voters, and those living in rural areas were more likely to approve of a bear-hunting season in New Jersey than women, younger voters, and those living in more developed parts of the state. In the western states, where there are large black populations, there are spring and year-round seasons. Approximately 18,845 black bears were killed annually in the USA between 1988–1992. Within this period, annual kills ranged from six bears in South Carolina to 2,232 in Maine.
According to Dwight Schuh in his ''Bowhunter's Encyclopedia'', black bears are the third most popular quarry of bowhunters, behind deer and elk.
EvolutionAlthough they all live in North America, American black bears are not closely related to brown bears and polar bears; genetic studies reveal that they split from a common ancestor 5.05 million years ago. Both American and Asiatic black bears are considered sister taxa, and are more closely related to each other than to other species of bear.
A small primitive bear called ''Ursus abstrusus'' is the oldest known North American fossil member of the genus ''Ursus'', dated to 4.95 mya. This suggests that ''U. abstrusus'' may be the direct ancestor of the American black bear, which evolved in North America. Although Wolverton and Lyman still consider ''U. vitabilis'' an "apparent precursor to modern black bears", it has also placed within U. americanus.
The ancestors of American black bears and Asiatic black bears diverged from sun bears 4.58 mya. The American black bear then split from the Asian black bear 4.08 mya. The earliest American black bear fossils, which were located in Port Kennedy, Pennsylvania, greatly resemble the Asiatic species, though later specimens grew to sizes comparable to grizzlies. From the Holocene to present, American black bears seem to have shrunk in size, but this has been disputed because of problems with dating these fossil specimens.
The American black bear lived during the same period as short-faced bears and the Florida spectacled bear . These Tremarctine bears evolved from bears that had emigrated from Asia to North America 7–8 ma....hieroglyph snipped... The short-faced bears are thought to have been heavily carnivorous and the Florida spectacled bear more herbivorous, while the American black bears remained arboreal omnivores, like their Asian ancestors. The black bear's generalist behavior allowed it to exploit a wider variety of foods and has been given as a reason why of these 3 genera, it alone survived climate and vegetative changes through and last ice age while the other more specialized North American predators went extinct. However, both ''Arctodus'' and ''Tremarctos'' had survived several other ice ages. After these prehistoric Ursids went extinct during the last glacial period 10,000 years ago, black bears were probably the only bear present in much of North America until the arrival of brown bears to the rest of the continent.
CulturalBlack bears feature prominently in the stories of some of America's indigenous peoples. One tale tells of how the black bear was a creation of the Great Spirit, while the grizzly was created by the Evil Spirit. In the mythology of the Haida, Tlingit, Tsimshian people of the Northwest Coast, mankind first learned to respect bears when a girl married the son of black bear Chieftain. In Kwakiutl mythology, black and brown bears became enemies when Grizzly Bear Woman killed Black Bear Woman for being lazy. Black Bear Woman's children, in turn, killed Grizzly Bear Woman's own cubs. The Navajo believed that the Big Black Bear was chief among the bears of the four directions surrounding Sun's house, and would pray to it in order to be granted its protection during raids.
Morris Michtom, the creator of the teddy bear, was inspired to make the toy when he came across a cartoon of Theodore Roosevelt refusing to shoot a black bear cub trapped up a tree....hieroglyph snipped... Winnie the Pooh was named after Winnipeg, a female black bear cub that lived at London Zoo from 1915 until her death in 1934. A black bear cub who in the spring of 1950 was caught in the Capitan Gap fire was made into the living representative of Smokey Bear, the mascot of the United States Forest Service.
The American black bear is the mascot of Baylor University; the university houses two live black bears on campus.
Sleeping Bear Dunes is named after a Native American legend, where a female bear and her cub swam across Lake Michigan. Exhausted from their journey, the bears rested on the shoreline and fell sound asleep. Over the years, the sand covered them up, creating a huge sand dune.
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