Black Bear FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

How many black bears live in North America?

Approximately 900,000.

How long do wild black bears live?

The oldest wild black bear lived 39 years, but it is more common to find female bears living into their 20’s. Bears that eat a lot of non-natural human foods tend to die earlier.

What is the largest wild black bear on record?

A male that weighed 880 pounds and lived in North Carolina.

Do black bears sleep all winter long in dens?

They can also wake up and go outside when it’s warm, and then return. However, they do not eat, drink, urinate, or defecate when denning.

How old does a female black bear need to be to mate and have cubs?

Three years old.

Bears live in which southern states?

All of them: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

What kinds of food do bears in the Southeast eat by season?

In Spring:

  • Grasses/Forbes
  • Insects/Larvae
  • Skunk Cabbage
  • Squaw Root

In Summer/Fall:

  • Berries
  • Hard mast (Acorns, Other tree nuts)
  • Autumn Olive
  • Dogwood
  • Wild Grapes
  • Serviceberry
  • Mountain-ash
  • Hawthorn
  • Chokecherry
  • Pokeberry
  • Sassafras