Most often black in color, black bears lack the shoulder hump prominent in grizzly bears. The tan muzzle is distinctive. They have strong curved claws that allow them to climb trees with agility. Unlike other tree-climbing mammals that descend head-first, a black bear walks down a tree with its rear legs in the lead.
Black bears are omnivores, eating berries, roots, grasses and other plant matter, insects, carrion and spawning salmon.
Black bears are usually solitary animals except females with young. A pair may come together for several days during mating season and in time of abundant food, several bears may feed closely together with little interaction. Bears will leave territorial signposts both through scent marking and by leaving long claw marks in tree bark.
Females reach sexual maturity at 3 to 4 years of age and mating will take place in June and July. Pairs may come together for a few hours or several days, copulating many times. Cubs are born in their mother's winter den in January or February. Cubs may remain with their mother for a year and a half before venturing out on their own.
Did You Know?
Warmer average temperatures over several decades have resulted in expansion of woody vegetation. If this warming trend continues, it will change Alaska's ecosystems and drastically alter the physical appearance of Denali's landscape, as treeline marches higher up the mountains.