Types of Bears and Bear Species

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This section is designed to educate you about three different types of bears that can be hunted; the black bear, brown bear and polar bear. There are other species of bears that can be hunted legally; however, this page focuses only on these three. The information provided is strictly related to the species itself, not bear hunting in general. You can review our bear hunting guide and bear hunting tips for information related to hunting these types of bears.

It’s an excellent idea to learn about the bear itself prior to the hunt. Knowing how the species you will be hunting provides you with an advantage. This web page will teach you all about the species, including diet, foraging methods, mating information and much more. This information will help you locate specific areas a bear might forage or dwell. Regardless of the species of bear you need to remember they are powerful animals. They can easily kill a human without even trying to.

American Black Bear

The American black bear (Ursus americanus) is the smallest bear in North America. It’s also the most common species of bear in that region. One of the main reasons the black bear is so common is its ability to make use of different food types and habitats. The overall population of the American black bear is estimated to be double of all other bear species combined. Black bears are generally not a threat to humans but that’s not to say that they have not killed any as some reports have been made. There are also records of property damage and killed livestock done by the black bear as well.

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The majority of an American black bear’s diet is vegetation; this includes young shoots from trees, bushes, honey, bees, yellow-jackets, ants and ant larvae. Black bears will also eat salmon; however they only hunt them during the night time using the aid of their black coat. In some areas American black bears have been known to prey on white-tailed deer fawn and mules. American black bears are able to have their first litter around the age of 3 to 5 years. They tend to breed in the period between June and July for 2 to 3 weeks. Cubs require their mother for 16 to 18 months before becoming independent. They will reach their full size in about 5 years and have a life span of 18 years in the wild.

Brown Bear

The brown bear (Ursus arctos) is one of the larger bears located in North America and northern Eurasia. The scientific community recognized several subspecies of brown bear. Many subspecies of brown bear are considered some of the largest types of bear; rivaling the polar bear. The brown bear is a nocturnal species. There is an estimated 200,000 brown bears in their current population. They can be very dangerous to humans and due to interactions with humans feeding them they’ve been known to approach humans for food.

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A brown bears diet consists of both plants and meat making it an omnivore. Their diet includes fungi, berries, roots, fish, variety of insects and small mammals. Like the American black bear their diet consists mostly of vegetation. Between May and July is the mating season for brown bears. They are basically monogamous and will mate with the same mate for a couple of weeks. They sexually mature between 5 and 7 years old however males may take longer since they need to compete with larger males for mating privileges. Cubs will remain with the mother for 2 to 4 years while learning how to hunt, forage and defend themselves. It’s common for a male to kill the cubs of a female; this in turn can bring the female into the mating mode so he can then reproduce with her. Another reason he may kill her cubs is to provide himself with food by eating them. The average life span of a brown bear is 20 years; however this span varies between brown bear subspecies.

Polar Bear

The polar bear (Ursus Maritimus) is arguably the largest bear species known to man. Their range is within the Article circle encompassing the Artic Ocean and its surrounding seas and land masses. Polar bears are considered a vulnerable species due to unrestricted hunting in the past; and currently due to global warming. However, due to hunting quotes the population has begun to rebound. The polar bear will actually spend more time in the sea than on actually land, hence the nickname “the sea bear”.

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A polar bear’s diet consists mostly of meat, making it the most carnivorous bear on the planet. They mostly hunt seals; however they also will hunt walrus calves, musk ox, reindeer, birds, eggs, rodents, shellfish, crabs, and other polar bears. Between April and May is when mating takes place; which is done on sea ice. Intense fighting between males will take place over who gets mating rights. Female polar bears can have a litter fathered by multiple males. The average life span of a polar bear is usually no longer than 25 years.