Bear Species and Locations

There are at least 25 different subspecies of bears in North America, the grand majority of these are black bear supspecies.  Even to the trained eye, it would be extremely difficult to differentiate between each subspecies of black bear and there is certainly crossbreeding involved.

Black Bear Walking
Black bears are the most common bear species.

The more general classification of North American bears provides only three main species: Black Bears, Brown/Grizzly bears and Polar bears.

Black Bears

By far the American Black Bear is the most popular of all bears in North America.  The black bears range once encompassed every state except Hawaii.  In the late 1800's the bears were hunted nearly to extinction and have since rebounded significantly, recovering to 75% of their original range.  The current range of the black bear stretches from Florida to Alaska.

 

 

 

 

 

Brown Bear Sow With Cubs
A brown bear cub and sows looking for salmon.

Brown & Grizzly Bears

Brown bears and Grizzly bears are certainly related but the difference in their home ranges have led to differences in body type and attitude.  The main difference between grizzly bears and brown bears is where they live.  Brown bears live near the coast or within one hundred miles of very large bodies of water, grizzly bears live more inland than the larger coastal bears.  The Kodiak brown bear is a subspecies that exists only on the Kodiak islands.  Their distance from the mainland keeps them from crossbreeding with the other subspcies of brown bears.  Coastal bears generally have the opportunity to grow larger as the availability of Salmon allows them to eat higher protein diets and a seemingly endless supply of food during the spring and summer months.  Coastal brown bears (and Kodiaks) live primarily in Alaska and Canada while grizzly bears inahbit Alaska, Canada, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Wyoming.

 

 

 

 

Polar Bear Hunting Seals
Polar bears live mainly within the Arctic Circle.

 

Polar  Bears

The Polar bear lives natively within the Arctic Circle with encompasses the Arctic Ocean.  The polar bear is closely related to the brown bear, but may have developed or adapted to the icy winter environment in which it lives.  Most bears are omnivorous, but the Polar bear is considered the world's largest carnivore feasting mainly on seals.  Polar bears may spend months at sea and are readily developed to do so.  Biologists estimate that there are as many as 25,000 polar bears in existence. 

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