Peek-a-Boo

Alyce Taylor

Joined December 2008

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Artist's Description

A black bear cub peeks around the far side of a tree while playing with its siblings.

The black bear (Ursus americanus) is one of the most familiar wild animals in North America today. Black bears are the smallest of the bear species in North America, but are still a bulky and thickset mammal. Approximately 150 cm (5ft) long and with a height at the shoulder that varies from 100 to 120 cm (3.25 to 4 ft). Their weight varies dramatically in the course of a year, lowest in spring, highest in late fall. Adult males typically weigh between 57-250 kg (125 and 550 lb), while females weigh 33% less at 41-109 kg (90–275 lb).

Despite their name, black bears show a great deal of color variation. Individual coat colors can range from white, blond, cinnamon, or light brown to dark chocolate brown or to jet black, with many intermediate variations existing. Bluish tinged black bears occur along a portion of coastal Alaska and British Columbia. White to cream colored black bears occur in coastal islands and the adjacent mainland of south-western British Columbia. Albino specimens have also been recorded. Black coats tend to predominate in moist areas such as New England, New York, Tennessee, Michigan and western Washington. 70% of all black bears are black, though only 50% of black bears in the Rocky Mountains are black.

Taken at Waterton Lakes National Park in Southern Alberta, Canada.

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