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The Black Bear (Ursus americanus)

If you are traveling through Wisconsin and see a big, black fur ball, you might have just spotted a black bear.  They are typically found in the northern portion of the state, but are also found in some parts of central Wisconsin.  It is very rare to find one in southern WisconsinBlack bears can get to be pretty large.  The female black bear can weigh up to two hundred pounds.  The male is larger weighing in at around four hundred pounds.  Their height and length are around the same amount for both sexes.  The height averages around three feet up to the shoulders and the length is approximately four to six feet. 

The Wisconsin black bear has many features to its body parts.  The black bear’s teeth adapt to the varieties of plants and animals that it eats.  Their nose is also very helpful in smelling; they are able to smell better than humans.  Wisconsin black bears have a very large brain that helps makes them very smart and gives them good memory.  The habitat of black bears is usually in wooded areas where they have plenty of shelter.  They don’t seem to stay in one place very long though.  Black bears tend to travel around a lot in search for food.  Did you know that male bears will share their territories with each other, but the females won’t? 

Wisconsin black bears will hibernate in the northern part of the state where the food is scarce.  They pack on a lot of body fat so they can survive during their hibernation.  They hibernate from September through April.  Black bears like to eat all kinds of vegetation and plants.  Their favorite foods consist of: fish, carrion, fruit, nuts, acorns, insects, greens, and meat.  It is a cool sight to see when the black bears are catching fish.  Wisconsin black bears seem to be quite solitary animals, spending most of their time by themselves or with their family.  If a black bear feels startled or in danger you will hear it make a woofing sound.  

Most black bears are active about a half an hour before the sun rises.  They usually take a couple naps during the day and then go to bed for the night an hour or two after the sun sets.  Even though this is a set routine, some black bears are known to switch their routine in order to avoid humans.  The sexual maturity age differs between the two sexes.  The male black bear becomes old enough to mate at the age of five or six years.  The female black bear starts mating when she becomes four or five years old.  Once they reach that age, the miracle of life begins.  They mate between June to mid-July. 

The female bear is pregnant for about two hundred twenty days and then gives birth to two to three cubs.  Some females are known to have up to five babies.  The cubs tend to weigh about a pound at birth.  The babies will stay with the mother until they are seven months old, and then they go out on their own.  Wisconsin black bears have some astonishing advantages that help them survive in the wild.  Black bears have excellent vision with objects that are close up so when they are fighting, they can see really good to defend themselves.  Black bears are also excellent swimmers.  They are able to swim up to a mile and a half in freshwater without having to stop and rest.

If the black bear is lean and strong, they have the ability to run as fast as thirty mph!  Imagine being chased by something moving that fast.  An unfortunate disadvantage for Wisconsin black bears is that a large number of them get hunted by humans either for their thick fur or their meat.  A lot of the baby bears tend to die from starvation once they leave their parents.  Some haven’t quite learned how to make it out in the world.  Most black bears don’t attack humans unless they are provoked; so enjoy the sight of the bears, but still keep your distance away.  Unlike some other animals, black bears don’t have too many predators.  Their enemies include: humans, wolves, grizzly bears, and other black bears. 

If a Wisconsin black bear isn’t killed, it can live to be twenty-one to thirty-three years old!  A strange fact about black bears is that the parents generally will not attack humans if they try to take the cubs away.  Wisconsin black bears are an unusual, but amazing bear!  Enjoy their presence.


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