Ursus americanus - Pallas, 1780
American Black Bear
Other English Common Names: American black bear
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Ursus americanus Pallas, 1780 (TSN 180544)
French Common Names: ours noir
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.100661
Element Code: AMAJB01010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Mammals - Carnivores
Image 10797

© Dick Cannings

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Mammalia Carnivora Ursidae Ursus
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Second edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw/.
Concept Reference Code: B93WIL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Ursus americanus
Taxonomic Comments: Characterized by a relatively low level of protein variation (see Cronin et al. 1991). Cronin et al. (1991) found very similar mtDNA haplotypes among black bears from Alaska, Montana, Oregon, and New Hampshire, though divergent haplotypes were identified in the populations from Montana and Oregon; evidently there has been maintenance of polymorphism and considerable gene flow throughout the history of the species. Bears from insular Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and Quebec, and most individuals from Alberta, exhibited very closely related mtDNA haplotypes; Newfoundland bears apparently arose through rapid genetic drift associated with a founder effect during postglacial colonization (Paetkau and Strobeck 1996).

Bears from Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), Vancouver Island, and coastal mainland British Columbia are indistinguishable with respect to mtDNA, but these bears are highly distinct from inland continental bears; the coastal mtDNA lineage occurs in each of the three recognized coastal subspecies, suggesting that the morphological characteristics differentiating these taxa may be postglacially derived (Byun et al. 1997).

See Cronin et al. (1991) and Shields and Kocher (1991) for information on phylogenetic relationships of North American ursids based on an analysis of mitochondrial DNA (black bear has been separated from brown and polar bears much longer than brown and polar bears have been separated from each other).
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 05Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 15Nov1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Widespread in North America; stable, secure population.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Sep1996)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5 (21Feb2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S2), Alaska (S5), Arizona (S5), Arkansas (S4), California (SNR), Colorado (S5), Connecticut (S3), Delaware (SX), District of Columbia (SX), Florida (S5), Georgia (S4), Idaho (S5), Illinois (SX), Indiana (SX), Iowa (SX), Kansas (SX), Kentucky (S2), Louisiana (S2), Maine (S5), Maryland (S3S4), Massachusetts (S4), Michigan (S5), Minnesota (SNR), Mississippi (S1), Missouri (S4), Montana (S5), Navajo Nation (S5), Nebraska (SX), Nevada (S4), New Hampshire (S5), New Jersey (S3), New Mexico (S4), New York (S5), North Carolina (S4), North Dakota (SX), Ohio (S1), Oklahoma (S1), Oregon (S4), Pennsylvania (S5), Rhode Island (SX), South Carolina (S3?), South Dakota (S1), Tennessee (S3), Texas (S3), Utah (S3), Vermont (S5), Virginia (S4), Washington (S5), West Virginia (S5), Wisconsin (S5), Wyoming (S5)
Canada Alberta (S5), British Columbia (S5), Labrador (S5), Manitoba (S5), New Brunswick (S5), Newfoundland Island (S5), Northwest Territories (S5), Nova Scotia (S5), Nunavut (SU), Ontario (S5), Prince Edward Island (SX), Quebec (S5), Saskatchewan (S5), Yukon Territory (S5)

Other Statuses

Implied Status under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): PS
Comments on USESA: Subspecies luteolus of Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas is listed as threatened; however USFWS (2015) propose to remove it from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife due to recovery. They also propose to remove the similarity of appearance protections for the American black bear. Subspecies floridanus of Florida and Georgia formerly was a candidate for listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (Federal Register, 28 February 1996) but has since been removed from candidacy (USFWS 1998). In a 90-day petition finding, USFWS decided not to recognize or list the distinct population segment (DPS) of this bear in Nevada (Federal Register, 5 July 2012).
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Not at Risk (01Apr1999)
IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Protection Status (CITES): Appendix II

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 100-250 square km (about 40-100 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Black bears exist throughout most of North America north of central Mexico, except the desert region of the southwestern United States, from north-central Alaska across boreal Canada to Labrador and Newfoundland, and south to central California, northern Nevada, northern Nayarit and southern Tamaulipas (Mexico), and Florida (Wozencraft, in Wilson and Reeder 1993). However, the species has been eliminated from most of the Midwest by intensive agriculture and human settlement. Now it occurs primarily in remaining large forested tracts.

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Many EOs.

Population Size: 10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Locally threatened by habitat loss and interference by humans. Black market value of gall bladder and paws has led to an increase in the illegal harvest of this species.

Short-term Trend Comments: Populations have increased recently in the northeastern U.S.

Sightings and abundance in the southwestern Great Plains in western Oklahoma and adjacent northwestern Texas and southwestern Kansas increased in the 1980s and 1990s, with an apparently reproducing population now present in Cimarron County, Oklahoma; this population apparently expanded from those in southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico (Kamler et al. 2003).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: (100-250 square km (about 40-100 square miles)) Black bears exist throughout most of North America north of central Mexico, except the desert region of the southwestern United States, from north-central Alaska across boreal Canada to Labrador and Newfoundland, and south to central California, northern Nevada, northern Nayarit and southern Tamaulipas (Mexico), and Florida (Wozencraft, in Wilson and Reeder 1993). However, the species has been eliminated from most of the Midwest by intensive agriculture and human settlement. Now it occurs primarily in remaining large forested tracts.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DCextirpated, DEextirpated, FL, GA, IAextirpated, ID, ILextirpated, INextirpated, KSextirpated, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, NDextirpated, NEextirpated, NH, NJ, NM, NN, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RIextirpated, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
Canada AB, BC, LB, MB, NB, NF, NS, NT, NU, ON, PEextirpated, QC, SK, YT

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: Sechrest, 2002

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AL Covington (01039), Mobile (01097)
CT Fairfield (09001)*, Windham (09015)*
FL Alachua (12001), Baker (12003), Bay (12005), Bradford (12007), Brevard (12009), Broward (12011), Calhoun (12013), Charlotte (12015), Citrus (12017), Clay (12019), Collier (12021), Columbia (12023), Dixie (12029), Duval (12031), Flagler (12035), Franklin (12037), Gadsden (12039), Glades (12043), Gulf (12045), Hamilton (12047), Hardee (12049), Hendry (12051), Hernando (12053), Highlands (12055), Jefferson (12065), Lake (12069), Lee (12071), Leon (12073), Levy (12075), Liberty (12077), Madison (12079), Marion (12083), Miami-Dade (12086), Monroe (12087), Okaloosa (12091), Orange (12095), Osceola (12097), Pasco (12101), Polk (12105), Putnam (12107), Santa Rosa (12113), Sarasota (12115), Seminole (12117), St. Johns (12109), Sumter (12119), Suwannee (12121), Taylor (12123), Union (12125), Volusia (12127), Wakulla (12129), Walton (12131)
GA Appling (13001), Atkinson (13003), Bacon (13005), Brantley (13025), Brooks (13027), Charlton (13049), Clinch (13065), Coffee (13069), Echols (13101), Grady (13131), Lanier (13173), Lowndes (13185), Pierce (13229), Thomas (13275), Ware (13299), Wayne (13305)
IA Allamakee (19005)*, Clayton (19043)*, Delaware (19055)*, Dubuque (19061)*, Tama (19171)*, Winneshiek (19191)*
KY Bell (21013), Estill (21065), Grant (21081), Harlan (21095), Lee (21129), Letcher (21133), Madison (21151), McCreary (21147), Menifee (21165), Morgan (21175), Powell (21197), Pulaski (21199), Rowan (21205), Whitley (21235)
LA Franklin (22041), Iberia (22045), Madison (22065), Pointe Coupee (22077), St. Landry (22097), St. Tammany (22103), Tensas (22107), Vermilion (22113), West Feliciana (22125)
MD Allegany (24001)*, Garrett (24023)
MO Iron (29093), Ozark (29153), Pulaski (29169), Shannon (29203), Washington (29221)
MS Adams (28001)*, Bolivar (28011)*, Claiborne (28021)*, George (28039)*, Issaquena (28055)*, Jackson (28059)*, Lamar (28073)*, Marion (28091)*, Neshoba (28099)*, Pearl River (28109)*, Perry (28111)*, Pontotoc (28115), Scott (28123)*, Sharkey (28125)*, Stone (28131)*, Sunflower (28133)*, Union (28145), Warren (28149)*, Washington (28151)*, Wilkinson (28157), Yazoo (28163)*
NV Carson City (32510)*, Douglas (32005)*, Washoe (32031)
OH Ashtabula (39007)
OK Atoka (40005), Cherokee (40021), Choctaw (40023), Coal (40029), Haskell (40061), Latimer (40077), LeFlore (40079), McCurtain (40089), Pushmataha (40127), Sequoyah (40135)
SC Aiken (45003), Charleston (45019), Greenville (45045)*, Hampton (45049), Horry (45051)*, Kershaw (45055), Newberry (45071), Pickens (45077)*, Richland (45079), Sumter (45085)
SD Custer (46033)
TX Armstrong (48011), Bexar (48029), Brewster (48043), Carson (48065), Cass (48067), Crockett (48105), Culberson (48109), Dallam (48111), Dimmit (48127), Franklin (48159), Frio (48163), Hopkins (48223), Hudspeth (48229), Jeff Davis (48243), Kendall (48259), Kinney (48271), La Salle (48283), Marion (48315), Maverick (48323), Morris (48343), Polk (48373), Reagan (48383), Shelby (48419), Smith (48423), Terrell (48443), Val Verde (48465), Zavala (48507)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Shetucket (01100002)+*, Saugatuck (01100006)+*
02 North Branch Potomac (02070002)+, Cacapon-Town (02070003)+*
03 Waccamaw (03040206)+*, Wateree (03050104)+, Saluda (03050109)+, Congaree (03050110)+, Cooper (03050201)+, South Fork Edisto (03050204)+, Bulls Bay (03050209)+*, Seneca (03060101)+*, Middle Savannah (03060106)+, Lower Savannah (03060109)+, Satilla (03070201)+, Little Satilla (03070202)+, St. Marys (03070204)+, Upper St. Johns (03080101)+, Oklawaha (03080102)+, Lower St. Johns (03080103)+, Daytona - St. Augustine (03080201)+, Cape Canaveral (03080202)+, Kissimmee (03090101)+, Western Okeechobee Inflow (03090103)+, Lake Okeechobee (03090201)+, Everglades (03090202)+, Big Cypress Swamp (03090204)+, Caloosahatchee (03090205)+, Peace (03100101)+, Myakka (03100102)+, Charlotte Harbor (03100103)+, Crystal-Pithlachascotee (03100207)+, Withlacoochee (03100208)+, Waccasassa (03110101)+, Econfina-Steinhatchee (03110102)+, Aucilla (03110103)+, Upper Suwannee (03110201)+, Alapaha (03110202)+, withlacoochee (03110203)+, Little (03110204)+, Lower Suwannee (03110205)+, Santa Fe (03110206)+, Apalachee Bay-St. Marks (03120001)+, Upper Ochlockonee (03120002)+, Lower Ochlockonee (03120003)+, Apalachicola (03130011)+, Chipola (03130012)+, New (03130013)+, Apalachicola Bay (03130014)+, St. Andrew-St. Joseph Bays (03140101)+, Choctawhatchee Bay (03140102)+, Yellow (03140103)+, Blackwater (03140104)+, Pensacola Bay (03140105)+, Lower Choctawhatchee (03140203)+, Escambia (03140305)+, Town (03160102)+, Mobile - Tensaw (03160204)+, Upper Leaf (03170004)+*, Lower Leaf (03170005)+*, Pascagoula (03170006)+*, Black (03170007)+*, Upper Pearl (03180001)+*, Lower Pearl. Mississippi (03180004)+
04 Grand (04110004)+
05 Youghiogheny (05020006)+, Licking (05100101)+, North Fork Kentucky (05100201)+, Middle Fork Kentucky (05100202)+, Upper Kentucky (05100204)+, Lower Kentucky (05100205)+, Upper Cumberland (05130101)+, Rockcastle (05130102)+, South Fork Cumberland (05130104)+
06 Upper French Broad (06010105)+*, Powell (06010206)+
07 Upper Iowa (07060002)+*, Turkey (07060004)+*, Apple-Plum (07060005)+*, Middle Iowa (07080208)+*, Meramec (07140102)+, Big (07140104)+
08 Lower Mississippi-Greenville (08030100)+*, Big Sunflower (08030207)+*, Deer-Steele (08030209)+*, Bayou Macon (08050002)+, Tensas (08050003)+, Lower Mississippi-Natchez (08060100)+*, Lower Big Black (08060202)+*, Bayou Pierre (08060203)+*, Homochitto (08060205)+*, Buffalo (08060206)+, Lower Mississippi-Baton Rouge (08070100)+, Bayou Sara-Thompson (08070201)+, Lower Grand (08070300)+, Atchafalaya (08080101)+, Bayou Teche (08080102)+, Vermilion (08080103)+
10 Middle Cheyenne-Spring (10120109)+, Upper Gasconade (10290201)+
11 Bull Shoals Lake (11010003)+, Upper Black (11010007)+, Current (11010008)+, Eleven Point (11010011)+, Lower Neosho (11070209)+, Rita Blanca (11090103)+, Carrizo (11090104)+, Dirty-Greenleaf (11110102)+, Illinois (11110103)+, Robert S. Kerr Reservoir (11110104)+, Poteau (11110105)+, Upper Prairie Dog Town Fork Red (11120103)+, Upper Salt Fork Red (11120201)+, Upper North Fork Red (11120301)+, Muddy Boggy (11140103)+, Kiamichi (11140105)+, Pecan-Waterhole (11140106)+, Upper Little (11140107)+, Mountain Fork (11140108)+, Lower Little (11140109)+, White Oak Bayou (11140303)+, Cross Bayou (11140304)+, Lake O'the Pines (11140305)+, Caddo Lake (11140306)+
12 Middle Sabine (12010002)+, Toledo Bend Reservoir (12010004)+, Middle Neches (12020002)+, Middle Concho (12090103)+, Medina (12100302)+, Cibolo (12100304)+, Upper Nueces (12110103)+, Upper Frio (12110106)+, Lower Frio (12110108)+
13 Rio Grande-Fort Quitman (13040100)+, Terlingua (13040204)+, Big Bend (13040205)+, Maravillas (13040206)+, Santiago Draw (13040207)+, Reagan-Sanderson (13040208)+, San Francisco (13040209)+, Lozier Canyon (13040210)+, Amistad Reservoir (13040212)+, Salt Basin (13050004)+, Upper Pecos-Black (13060011)+, Delaware (13070002)+, Salt Draw (13070004)+, Coyanosa-Hackberry Draws (13070006)+, Lower Pecos (13070008)+, Independence (13070010)+, Howard Draw (13070011)+, Lower Pecos (13070012)+, Elm-Sycamore (13080001)+, San Ambrosia-Santa Isabel (13080002)+
16 Lake Tahoe (16050101)+*, Truckee (16050102)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: A bear.
General Description: Pelage is usually black, brown, or reddish, but some in Pacific Northwest are bluish or whitish. Snout is tan or grizzled, straight or slightly convex in side view. Males grow larger than females, may reach several hundred pounds. Head and body length 150-180 cm, tail about 12 cm, mass about 90-140 kg for females, 115-270 kg for males (Nowak 1991, Burt and Grossenheider 1964).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Differs from the grizzly bear in having the claws of the forefeet only a little longer than those on the hind feet (about twice as long in the grizzly), length of second upper molar less than 29.5 mm (in part of range where grizzly occurs), snout profile straight rather than dished, and in lacking a prominent hump at the shoulders; maximum size of black bear is less than that of the grizzly (170-280 cm head and body length) (Nowak 1991, Hall 1981).
Reproduction Comments: Breeding occurs in June-July. Implantation is delayed about 4 months (also reported as 5-6 months). Gestation lasts 7-7.5 months (average 220 days). Females give birth every 2 years at most. Young are born in January-February, stay with mother until fall of second year. Litter size is 1-5 (modal number generally is 2 or 3, average is less than 2 in western North America). Females generally first give birth at 2-5 years (usually 4-5 years).

A female bear's reproductive success is dependent on her condition when she enters winter dormancy. A female that has fed well in autumn puts on much body fat and gives birth to usually 2 (rarely up to 5) cubs, whereas a female in poor condition does not produce any cubs. In the southern Appalachians, productivity and survival of young were enhanced when fall food (especially hard mast) supply was favorable (Eiler et al. 1989).

Ecology Comments: Density estimates in different areas: 1 bear per 1.3-8.8 sq km. Estimated density of 0.52-0.66 bears/sq km at Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, is the highest known density in the southeastern U.S.
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Black bears exhibit large variations in home range, depending on location and gender(Banfield 1974, Baker 1983, Klenner 1987). Female and subadult ranges typically are much smaller than those of adult males. In Minnesota, females rarely dispersed from natal home range, males dispersed when 2-4 years old (Rogers 1987). In western North Carolina, neighboring individuals often used areas of overlap for same activities and at same time (Horner and Powell 1990). Home ranges of males averaged 505 hectares on Long Island, Washington (Lindzey and Meslow 1977), 5,200 hectares in northern Washington (Poelker and Hartwell 1973), 1,060 hectares in northwestern California (Kelleyhouse 1975) and 2,240 hectares in the San Bernardino Mountains of southern California (Novick 1979). Home ranges in Idaho ranged from 1,660 to 13,030 hectares (Armstrup and Beecham 1976).

Riverine Habitat(s): CREEK, Low gradient, MEDIUM RIVER, Moderate gradient
Palustrine Habitat(s): FORESTED WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Conifer, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Fallen log/debris, Standing snag/hollow tree
Habitat Comments: Black bears inhabit forests and nearby openings, including forested wetlands. When inactive, they occupy dens under fallen trees, ground-level or above-ground tree cavities or hollow logs, underground cave-like sites, or the ground surface in dense cover. Young are born in a den. A low rate of den reuse was recorded in Pennsylvania.

These bears prefer mixed deciduous-coniferous forests with a thick understory but may occur in various situations. Large hardwood swamps and pocosins are important habitats on the Atlantic Coastal Plain. In the Great Dismal Swamp, Virginia and North Carolina, preferred habitats were pocosins, gum-cypress and maple-coniferous stands, disturbed areas, and roads; females exhibited seasonal changes in habitat preference (Hellgren and Vaughan 1991). In some areas (e.g., Alaska), bears make significant use of salmon spawning streams. In southeastern wetlands, bears would benefit from maintenance and enhancement of pocosins, mature gum, oak, and disturbed habitats (Hellgren et al. 1991).

Adult Food Habits: Carnivore, Frugivore, Granivore, Herbivore, Invertivore, Piscivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore, Frugivore, Granivore, Herbivore, Invertivore, Piscivore
Food Comments: Opportunistic omnivore. Variable diet of plants and animals (vertebrates and invertebrates), commonly including fruits, insects, and carrion; also garbage. There is no evidence of black bears being preferentially attracted to human menstrual odors or attacking menstruating women (Rogers et al. 1991).
Adult Phenology: Circadian, Crepuscular, Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Circadian, Crepuscular, Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Phenology Comments: Bears are dormant (but do not truly hibernate) in winter, though winter denning by males and barren females in the southern part of the range relatively short.

Daily activity may vary seasonally.

Length: 160 centimeters
Weight: 200000 grams
Economic Attributes
Economic Comments: Gall bladder and paws are of great value in the Asian black market (see Boston Globe, 2 March 1992, pp. 23-24).
Management Summary
Restoration Potential: Smith and Clark (1994) discussed factors (including release of 20-40 individuals/year for eight years) contributing to the successful re-establishment of a population after extirpation in the Ozark and Ouachita mountains of Arkansas.
Management Requirements: Adults (e.g., "problem bears") must be moved at least 64 km to assure that less than 50% return to original location; no increase in natural mortality occurs in translocated bears of age 2 years or older (Rogers 1986). See also Herrero (1985), Williamson (n.d.), Darling and Archibald (1990), and Clark and Smith (1991) for management information.
Monitoring Requirements: See Gibeau and Paquet (1991) for information on immobilization methods.

Layering of dental cementum in teeth collected from harvested bears can provide reasonably good accounts of present and past reproductive rates (Coy and Garshelis 1992).

Population/Occurrence Delineation
Use Class: Not applicable
Subtype(s): Den site, Feeding concentration site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals in appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Separation Barriers: Major water barriers; arbitrarily set at those greater than 5 kilometers across.
Alternate Separation Procedure: Occurrences generally should be based on major occupied physiographic or ecogeographic units that are separated along areas of relatively low bear density or use (e.g., major urban areas, very rugged alpine ridges, very wide bodies of water). These units may be based on available bear sightings/records or on movements of radio-tagged individuals, or they may be based on the subjective determinations by biologists familiar with bears and their habitats. Where occupied habitat is exceptionally extensive and continuous, that habitat may be subdivided into multiple contiguous occurrences as long as that does not reduce the occurrence rank (i.e., do not split up an A occurrence into multiple occurrences that would be ranked less than A).
Separation Justification: Black bears are highly mobile and readily disperse hundreds of kilometers across many types of habitats; populations and metapopulations tend to encompass huge areas. For example, in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, genetic data indicate that northern Mexico was the source of bears that recently recolonized areas in western Texas (Onorato et al. 2004). Female-mediated gene flow is proceeding slowly in this system, but its occurrence was inferred via field observations. Long-distance colonization is the likely cause of extant geographical associations between New Mexican and Mexico-Texas populations (Onorato et al. 2004). The naturally fragmented, xeric environment of the Chihuahuan Desert impedes colonization but is not a complete barrier to this process (Onorato et al. 2004).

Hence, meaningful bear occurrences should represent large occupied landscape units, but these often will not be demographically isolated from other occurrences. Isolation would require huge separation distances that would yield impractically large occurrences.

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): 3.5 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Home ranges vary considerably in size. This distance based on a conservatively small male home range of 1000 hectares (see Separation Justification).
Date: 08Mar2005
Author: Hammerson, G., and S. Cannings
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 01Feb2010
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 01Feb2010
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

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  • Amstrup, S. C., and J. Beecham. 1976. Activity patterns of radio-collared black bears in ldaho. Journal of Wildlife Management 40:340-48.

  • Aquin, P. 1999. Évaluation de la situation des groupes taxonomiques des mammifères du Québec. Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Faune. 5 pages.

  • Baker, R. H. 1983. Michigan mammals. Michigan State University Press. 642 pp.

  • Banfield, A. W. F. 1974. The mammals of Canada. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Canada. 438 pp.

  • Banfield, A. W. F. 1977. Les Mammifères du Canada. Publié pour le Musée national des sciences naturelles, Musées nationaux du Canada, par les Presses de l'Université Laval. 406 p.

  • Bowers, A. K., L. D. Lucio, D. W. Clark, S. P. Rakoe, and G. A. Heidt. 2001. Early History of the Wolf, Black Bear, and Mountain Lion in Arkansas. J. Ark. Acad. Sci. 55:22-27.

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