Black bear populations are on the rise all in many places throughout the country, but did you know that not all black bears are black? In this blog and video, we’ll take a look at the different color phases of the American black bear. The American black bear comes in more colors than any other mammal in North America. They can be black, brown, cinnamon, blond, bluish-gray, and even white. The black bear was originally named so because all the bears of their species that the early American settlers encountered were indeed black. This is still largely the case today, as the black bears that live in the eastern portion of the United States are mostly black. As you move further west however, black bears can be seen in a variety of colors.
In the Great Plains region of America, about 5 to 25% of black bears have fur that is various shades of brown instead of black, which often leads to these bears being mistaken for grizzly bears. In the western states, over half of the black bear population are brown, cinnamon, or blond in coloration. As a result of these bears adapting to their habitat over the years, their fur has become lighter, which helps them stay cool when exposed to the sun while feeding in open areas, as well as helps them blend in better with their environment and avoid predators such as grizzly bears. Black bears that spend a great deal of time in open areas can end up looking blond, as the sun bleaches away the darker coloration of their fur.
Along with these brown, cinnamon, and blond black bears, there are also two other rare color phases that are found in southeast Alaska and coastal British Columbia. The Glacier Bear of southeast Alaska is a subspecies of black bear that is usually black, but some bears are blueish gray in coloration. In a similar manner, the Kermode bear of British Columbia, sometimes referred to as the “spirit bear” is also mostly black, but a small percentage are white in coloration.
So there you have it my friends, those are the many colors of the “black” bear. Check out the video below to see more…