A black bear in Ontario, Canada. (Image credit: mlorenzphotography via Getty Images) American black bears ( Ursus americanus ), often simply called black bears, are the most common bears in North America. They live in northern Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. Black bears are smaller than brown bears ( Ursus arctos ) and polar bears ( Ursus maritimus ), making them the smallest of the three species of bears in North America. Black bears are excellent climbers and use their curved claws to scale trees and access food, such as nuts and honeycombs. On the ground, they are powerful runners and can reach speeds of up to 35 mph (56 km/h), according to the U.S National Park Service (NPS) . Black bears are usually black, as their name suggests, but their coats may also be brown, cinnamon-colored or even white, according to the International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA) . This coat variation means they’re occasionally mistaken for brown bears, especially where the ranges of the two species overlap in the northwest of the U.S. and Canada. How to identify a black bear Black bears are usually about 3 feet (0.9 meters) tall at the shoulder when […]


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