Black Bear

black bear and cubs
A black bear mother and her two cubs cross the East Fork Quinault River

Bridgett Jamison

Black bearUrsus americanus

The black bear is a common inhabitant of Olympic National Park, and North America, in general. They are smaller and darker than the grizzly bear and the brown bear. Females typically weigh between 100 and 400 lbs, while males weigh between 250 and 600 lbs.

Black bears are the most common species of North American bear, found in a majority of the states and in most of the Canadian provinces as well. They range from lowlands all the way up to subalpine regions of the mountains, inhabiting a variety of different ecosystems such as riparian areas, coastal lands, ridgetops, and forests, old and new.

These creatures have an incredibly varied diet. They often feed on tree sapwood, young tree bark, and insect mounds until berries come in season. Bears can be spotted frequently in the early fall raiding the huckleberry bushes on mountain slopes. During various salmon runs in both spring and fall, bears will feed in shallow waters where they have a relatively easy time catching salmon en route to spawn, or salmon carcasses that have done so already.

Do NOT approach bears! Though most are scared of humans, mothers with young are easily threatened. Always remain at a safe distance. It is important to read about how to properly secure your food and other scented items that attract bears and other creatures while camping in the park.

Last updated: December 17, 2018

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