Bear Anatomy and Traits

Bear Anatomy

It seems that the majority of the bears spotted in the woods are twice as big as any that are actually killed in those same areas.  In actuality, they aren't but bears are one of the most difficult animal to judge in terms of weight, for a few reasons.  First of all, thye obvious is that they can have six inches of hair on their whole body that makes them look giant and their head, neck and rump never seem to resemble things like tree trunks and volkswagens.  The average black bear in the United States weights between 225-300 pounds.  Certainly there are bears much bigger and smaller both in different parts of the country.  This same average bear will measure between five and six feet from nose to tail and will stand approximately two feet at the shoulder.

Sex Characteristics

Bears can be virtually impossible to sex.  Unless you have an absolutely giant boar or can see a penis, it's difficult to tell, especially from an elevated treestand.  Obviously many sows will have cubs with them  but if not, you're simply guessing unless you can see breasts for nursing that have the hair mostly rubbed off.  If none of these situations present themself, you have the same odds of guessing as you do winning a coin toss.

A Blond Colored Black Bear
This is a very pretty blond color phase black bear.


There are nearly twenty (maybe more) recognized subspecies of black bears.  The most common and widespread of these subspecies is the American Black Bear or Ursus americanus.   The western half of North America has a great deal of color phase bears that include Black, chocolate, cinnamon and blond.  Quite unlike the West, the eastern half of the continent is much more known for black colored bears with brown souts.  One subspecies of black bears found in Canada can be found in an almost white or cream color.


Bears are not unlike humans in that they have an elongated hind foot and a wide, more round, front foot (or paw).  Their feather are made of a hard leather type substance that is referred to as a pad, similar to a dog or cat.  Each foot has five toes with five fixed claws (not retractable).  The claws are used for tearing apart food, digging and, of course, climbing trees.

While bears appear to be large, slow and out of shape, they are quite the opposite.  Because they have no natural predators they don't typically have to run.  But when they need to, they can, black bears can run at speeds exceeding 30mph for some time.  As any dog hunter will tell you the stamina of a seemingly lazy bear is truly incredible.



Cheyenne, WY
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