The American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) is the most prominent bear in North America.
Black bears are typically found in large extensive forests, however, they are adaptable and do utilize open and developed areas especially where shelter or thick cover can be found nearby. New York State has a relatively high percent of forest cover, diverse food sources and an abundance of water.
Due to changes in land use and reforestation, New York’s bear habitat has improved and significantly increased in area during the last 100 years (Clarke, 1976). New York’s Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserves alone encompass approximately 325,000 hectares (800,000 acres) of black bear habitat.
They are medium sized omnivores who feed opportunistically. Black bears are known to eat a variety of foraged grasses, roots, berries, and insects – although today, bears find it easy to develop a taste for human foods and garbage.
An average black bear will grow to be between 200 and 600 pounds and live for about 20 years in the wild. Bears in the wild require large areas for roaming. Males might consider an area of 80 square miles to be “home”.
Mid-winter is when female black bears usually give birth to two or three tiny cubs. The baby bears will remain in the bear den where they are nursed by the mother until spring. Once the frost lifts, the bear families emerge from their “hibernation” to hunt and forage for food.