Ursus americanus (Pallas)

Black Bear

Don Linzey & Christy Brecht
Wytheville Community College
Wytheville, Virginia 24382

© Copyright Roger Barbour. All rights reserved.
Ursus americanus -- Black Bear

Last updated: 26 November, 2005

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Species Description

left lateral view of
skull and mandible
dorsal view of skull ventral view of skull


Taxonomic Category Scientific Name Common Name
Phylum Chordata Chordates
Class Mammalia Mammals
Order Carnivora Dogs, Cats, Bears, etc.
Family Ursidae Bears

Geographic distribution

The black bear once ranged from Alaska across Canada and throughout the United States, but it has been extirpated in many parts of its former range. Its present range includes the wilder areas of the northeastern United States and Canada; the northern part of the Great Lakes states and western Ontario; the mountainous portions of New York, Pennsylvania, and the South Atlantic states; and the wild forested sections and timbered swamps of the Gulf and South Atlantic states, together with the mountainous regions of Mexico, the western United States, Canada, and Alaska.


Optimum bear habitat is relatively inaccessible terrain with thick understory and adequate supplies of mast. In the southern Appalachians, bears do best in oak/hickory or mixed mesophytic forest with an understory of blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, rhododendron, and mountain laurel (Whitaker and Hamilton, 1998).

Natural History

Conservation Biology

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Last modified: 10 April, 2002