Black bear Black bear

Wyoming has two bear species, the grizzly bear, and the much more common, widespread, and smaller black bear.

Fun Critter Facts

- Being a western state (where "color phase" bears are much more common), Wyoming sports black bears in most recognized shades; from reddish "cinnamon" colored ones to black, "chocolate brown, and even blond.  Most eastern states have only "black" black bears.

- Black bears in Wyoming are found across the state, occupying a large range of habitats from those above timberline to river bottoms.  While most at home in dense timber or mixed mountain shrub habitats, black bears have even been documented crossing large open expanses in sagebrush and in the shortgrass  prairie areas of eastern Wyoming.  The majority of these observations are typically dispersing young males seeking their own home range.

- Black bears in Wyoming, typical for many of the bears in the intermountain west, are typically much smaller (weight) than their northern or eastern cousins.  The largest hunter harvested black bear (by weight) officially measured was a giant from coastal North Carolina that weighed nearly 900 pounds, much larger than our grizzly bears!  There has been another from the same area that unofficially topped 900 pounds, and bears in excess of 800 have also been taken in Pennsylvania and Minnesota.  Most female black bears in Wyoming only average about 150 pounds, and males typically average less than 300 pounds.

- Black bears are the least carnivorous of North America's carnivores; their diet consists of anything that won't eat them first.  They are quite arboreal; it is not uncommon to observe them feeding, loafing, or hiding high in trees.  A wide variety of fruits and mast (nuts), fresh grass shoots and other herbaceous plants, insects, fish, small mammals and young ungulates, carrion and crops all constitute a part of this bear's larder.  In addition, (unfortunately) black bears are also one of the primary wildlife species in conflict with man concerning camps, garbage facilities, livestock feed storage areas, and the occasional parked vehicle. Significant effort is expended annually to deal with offending black bears and on education initiatives aimed at reducing conflict.

- Black bears are true hibernators, entering a den site in the late fall, emerging in late spring.  Dens can be holes in the ground, in rock crevices, and even in hollow trees or logs on the ground.  Young are born in the den in January and February, and are tiny and helpless.  They emerge with their mother in late spring.  Litters in Wyoming are typically 1-3 cubs, but litters up to 6 have been documented in good years in the best habitats.   

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