Jonathan Cohen

Jonathan Cohen

Posted on 05/26/2013


Photo taken on June 20, 2012



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Alaskan Black Bears Diorama – Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Alaskan Black Bears Diorama – Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Black bears are the smallest of the North American bears. Adult bears stand about 29 inches (.73 m) at the shoulders and measure about 60 inches (1.5 m) from nose to tail. The tail is about two inches long. Males are larger than females. An average adult male in spring weighs about 180-200 pounds (81.8 to 90.9 kg). They are considerably lighter when they emerge from winter dormancy and may be 20 percent heavier in the fall when they are fat.

The color of this bear over its entire range varies from jet black to white. A very rare white or creamy phase occurs on Kermode Island and vicinity in British Columbia. Three colors are common in Alaska. Black is the most often encountered color, but brown or cinnamon bears are often seen in South-central Alaska and the Southeast mainland. The rare blue (glacier) phase may be seen in the Yakutat area and has been reported in other parts of Southeast Alaska. Only the black color phase is seen on the islands of Southeast. Black bears may have a patch of white hair on the fronts of their chests.

Black bears are most easily distinguished from brown bears by their straight facial profile and their claws which are sharply curved and seldom over 1½ inches in length. Positive identification can be made by measuring the upper rear molar which is never more than 1¼ inches long in the black bear and is never less than that in a brown bear. Black bears have adequate senses of sight and hearing. They do have, however, an outstanding sense of smell.

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