Home » Mammals » American Black Bear

American Black Bear

Scientific name: Ursus americanus

You will know one when you see it! This is the largest mammal that is sighted on a consistent basis in Lewisboro. Bears began returning to our area in 2012 from upstate New York and the Catskill mountains. Populations have grown and their range has expanded since the early 1900s with the abandonment of farms and the forests’ return. They are intelligent animals that learn from experience. And some of that experience is that where people live, there is easy availability of food. Securing garbage, not leaving pet food outdoors and even taking down bird feeders during the times of year when bears are active are all steps you can take to keep your property free of bears.

In the late summer and into fall, bears need to eat a lot of food to prepare for winter. They will raid honeybee hives, for the honey and the bees themselves, as they are a good source of protein. Up to hundreds of nuts, like acorns, will be eaten every day during this period.

Bears do not actually  hibernate, but rather enter a torpor (deep sleep), from which they can be easily awoken. They stay in their dens (or wherever it is that they have chosen for their long winter nap) until spring. Is it surprising that females seem to be pickier about their den location than males? Probably because they give birth during this time.


4-7 feet tall


Females average 170 pounds and males weigh in at an average off 300 pounds.

click to flip



As omnivorous animals, they truly do eat anything that is available to them, from insects like bees, to fruit like berries and nuts, and even carrion (dead animals). It is estimated that the majority of their diet comes from vegetation.


Bears are very adaptable and live in a variety of habitats.  Expect to find them in forest areas which are home to plentiful sources of fruits, nuts and plants. Unlike some other wildlife, bear adapt easily to suburbia, becoming less wary of humans. This is driven by the easy supply of food in unsecured garbage cans, the seed in bird feeders and even the bees that we keep in hives.

Life Cycle

Black bear mate in the summer, with their litters being born in January or February. Usually, they have litters of two, but it is possible for them to have up to six cubs. They stay with their mother for some time, up to a 18 months. They reach sexual maturity at 3 years and their full size at 6 years. It is thought that their lifespan in the wild is 18 years.

Signs and Tracks

See the photos below for some signs that a bear may be nearby. Bear scat is quite big. Bears also claw trees to mark their territory and you will find these at 4-7 feet off the ground.

Ecosystem Connections

Small cubs can be eaten by predators, including large birds, coyote and even other bears. Likewise, bear will take ill or diseased animals such as deer, but will not hunt full size, healthy adults. They will, however, eat fawns as their superior sense of smell can detect them. This is one way that nature is attempting to balance out the long standing problem that we have with deer overpopulation.

Human Connections

An interesting article on local sightings and helpful information.

You Probably Don't know ...

  • That the black bear has excellent eyesight.
  • They have a sense of smell which is better than a dog by seven times!
  • They are great tree climbers.
  • How fast they can run? Up to 25 MPH.
  • They are swimmers as well.

Family Structure

Bears are solitary animals.

More on Mammals in Lewisboro