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CDOW Website NDIS Home

Wildlife Black Bear Page


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This copyrighted photograph is the sole proprietorship of the photographer.  Unauthorized use is a violation of federal copyright laws.
Photo by: Tom Tietz
 Black Bear
 Ursus americanus

Habitat: Montane shrublands and forests, and subalpine forests at moderate elevations

Diet: Black bears are omnivorous and the diet depends largely on what kinds of food are seasonally available, although their mainstay is vegetation. In spring, emerging grasses and succulent forbs are favored. In summer and early fall, bears take advantage of a variety of berries and other fruits. In late fall, preferences are for berries and mast (acorns), where available. When the opportunity is present, black bears eat a diversity of insects, including beetle larvae and social insects (ants, wasps, bees, termites, etc.), and they kill a variety of mammals, including rodents, rabbits, and young or unwary ungulates (Gill and Beck 1990)

Description: A medium-sized bear, this species is Colorado's largest surviving carnivore. Color varies greatly, from black to pale brown or (rarely) even blond. In a Coloradan population, 83 percent of bears of both sexes were brown (T. Beck 1991), not unusual for black bears in mountainous regions of the West. Considerable seasonal color change occurs as a result of bleaching and fading of the pelage. Subadults may change color with age, usually going from brown to black but the reverse also occurs. A white chest blaze is not uncommon for Coloradan animals. The muzzle is typically pale brownish yellow. Measurements are: total length 1.4-1.95 m; length of tail 80-125 mm; length of hindfoot 190-280 mm; length of ear 60-80 mm; weight 90 kg, although some individuals weigh as much as 225 kg. In west-central Colorado, weights of 51 adult bears ranged from 59 to 159 kg, with adult males heavier than adult females at all seasons (T. Beck 1991).

Range in Colorado: Black bears are locally common in suitable habitats in the western two-thirds of the state. Highest population densities occur in the montane shrublands from Walsenburg and Trinidad west to the San Luis Valley, in the San Juan Mountains, and in the canyon country of west-central Colorado.



Status: CDOW Big Game, CDOW WRIS Species


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Black Bear Specific Links
  GAP Habitat Map


General Wildlife Links
  Colorado Audubon
  Colorado Birding Society
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