Black Bear

Black Bears are quiet, shy animals that thrive on the West Coast. British Columbia is home to one of the highest black bear populations in the world.

We can see Black Bears and Spirit Bears at any time, but tend to see more during the salmon run, throughout August, September and October. In the spring we may spot them foraging in the intertidal zone or on plants in the near shore environment.

The bountiful berries in the coastal temperate rainforest are a major food source for black and white bears, they often retreat to the cool forest during the hot summer days to fill up on these sugary treats.

When black bears enter their dens their heart rate drops to about 10 beats per minute

Once salmon arrive, the feast begins, as all bears gorge themselves on fish to put on enough weight before fasting all winter in their dens.

Black Bears are not always black, and this variation is most apparent in British Columbia. Other colour phases that occur in British Columbia include cinnamon, brown, blonde, and of course white (Spirit Bears). The blue phase, or “glacier” bear, is sometimes seen in the extreme northwest corner of the province.

The bear family, Ursidae, contains eight species on four continents and includes the giant panda. Three species of bears – grizzly (brown), polar, and black – occur in North America, the latter nowhere else. The feet are flat-soled (plantigrade), with naked pads and five toes with relatively short curved claws that are well suited for tree climbing.


Black Bears have low reproductive rates compared to many other mammals. Females usually don’t reach sexual maturity until four years of age and breed only every two to three years after that. In areas of abundant food, they may reach maturity sooner. Where food is scarce females might not bear their first litter until they are six or seven years old. Although some males can breed when they are one and a half years old, in most populations males don’t mature sexually until age five or six.

Black Bears of BC