Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve, BC (Photo by Tim Ennis/NCC)

Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve, BC (Photo by Tim Ennis/NCC)

Black bear (Photo by Allison Haskell)

Black bear (Photo by Allison Haskell)

American black bear

Contrary to popular belief black bears are not true hibernators. While the black bear does not have to eat or eliminate waste, unlike many small mammal hibernators, bears can wake up and wander around for short periods during the winter months if the weather becomes uncharacteristically warm.

What does it look like?

As the name suggests this member of the bear family most commonly has black fur, however throughout its extensive range brown, cinnamon, blue-black and even white bears can be found. Adult males weigh about 297 lbs, while females are much smaller averaging 154 lbs.

Where are they found?

The species occupies approximately 60 percent of its historical range throughout North America stretching from northern Canada to Mexico. In wilderness areas black bears are usually active from dawn until dark, whereas those in close proximity to humans may be mainly nocturnal to avoid contact with people.

What do they eat?

Black bears are omnivores eating a wide variety of foods including insects, berries, nuts, fish and even small mammals and birds.

What is NCC doing to protect habitat for this species?

While the black bear is not an at-risk species, it still needs safe places to range. Large protected properties, such as those within Sutton Mountain Range in southern Quebec and the Frontenac Arch in eastern Ontario, make this possible. 

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