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Oregon Wildlife Species

Mammals: Bears

Oregon Mammals:    

Order Carnivora
Bears - Family Ursidae

Bear images on Flickr | Living with Black Bears

Black Bear
Black Bear
Oregon Fish and Wildlife

Black Bear Ursus americanus

Black Bears are the largest extant carnivores in Oregon; they are, however, smaller than grizzly bears.

The body of this bear is heavily built; the legs are stout; the feet are large, the head, eyes, and ears are relatively small; and the tail is extremely short. The claws are recurved but relatively short with those on the forefeet equal to or only slightly longer than those on the hind feet. The characteristic humped shoulders and dished face of the grisly bear are absent. The pelage is black or brown; both phases may occur within the same litter produced by females of either color. White and bluish phases are also known to occur.

During spring-autumn seasons, Black Bears tend to be more active during daylight and crepuscular periods, but in the month or so before and after the period of winter dormancy they are less active overall and more nocturnal.

In autumn, Black Bears, throughout most of their geographic range, fatten, become more and more lethargic, enter dens, and remain inactive throughout winter. Den sites commonly are under stumps and logs or in holes in hillsides, but may include hollow trees, rock caves, drainage culverts, abandoned buildings, or in some regions even unsheltered depressions. Dens usually are well hidden by dense vegetation and, in colder regions, often open to the north or west.

Black Bears in Oregon occur in the Cascade Range and west to the Pacific Ocean, and in the Blue and Wallowa mountains; the species is absent from arid regions of central and southeastern Oregon.

Glossary of terms | Sources: Atlas of Oregon Wildlife | Land Mammals of Oregon

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