The American black bear (Ursus americanus) is North America's smallest and most common species of bear. It is a generalist animal, being able to exploit numerous different habitats and foodstuffs. Despite their name, black bears show a great deal of color variation. Individual coat colors can range from blond, cinnamon, or light brown to dark chocolate brown or to jet black, with many intermediate variations existing. Black Bears are not true hibernators, but they do become significantly less active and go into a dormant state during the winter months. This is sometimes referred to as Seasonal Lethargy. Black bears enter their dens in October and November. Prior to that time, they can put on up to 30 pounds of body fat to get them through the seven months during which they fast. Winter dormancy in Black Bears typically lasts 3–5 months. During this time, their heart rate drops from 40 - 50 beats per minute to 8 beats per minute. They spend their time in hollowed-out dens in tree cavities, under logs or rocks, in banks, caves, or culverts, and in shallow depressions.
Historically, black bears occupied the majority of North America's forested regions. Today, they are primarily limited to sparsely settled, forested areas
The current range of black bears in the United States is constant throughout most of the northeast (down to Virginia and West Virginia), the northern midwest, the Rocky mountain region, the west coast and Alaska. Unlike grizzly bears, which became a subject of fearsome legend among the European settlers of North America, black bears were rarely considered overly dangerous, even though they lived in areas where the pioneers had settled. Black bears rarely attack when confronted by humans, and usually limit themselves to making mock charges, emitting blowing noises and swatting the ground with their forepaws.
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