Black Bears

Black Bears: An Overview

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.

Black Bears in Denali

The black bear in Denali is typically confined to forested areas and is most often reported seen on the east end of the park, Kantishna Hills, and in the portions of the park on the south side of the Alaska Range. Their choice of habitat is usually one that keeps them away from contact with brown bears, a much larger competitor species. 

Last updated: August 25, 2016