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American Black Bear

Scientific Name: Ursus americanus

Habitat: Forested areas of Alaska, Canada, the Great Lakes region, the Pacific Northwest, the Rocky Mountain states, and California; the New England states, and parts of the eastern coast into Florida and Louisiana

Food: About 75 percent vegetable material like roots, nuts, leaves, grasses, herbs, berries, and fruit. They also eat insects, small mammals, eggs, fish, carrion, honey, and scavenge from human dump sites.

Facts: The name "black bear" is confusing to many people. A black bear's fur color can actually range from light cinnamon to black.

Human and bear histories are closely linked. Bears have provided us with food, clothing, shelter, tools, and even art. We respect, revere, fear, and puzzle over them. Yet bears usually come out the losers when people push into their territory. Perhaps more serious than shrinking habitat, though, is the problem of poaching and illegal trapping of bears, usually for nothing more than their paws and gall bladders. Entire populations of bears are being rapidly wiped out in certain areas because of this. Bears still have much to teach us. If they are to survive into the future, we must work to make it so.