Black bears live only in North America. They make their homes as far north as Alaska and as far south as Mexico. They typically live in well-forested areas but sometimes populate mountains and swamplands. Black bears are particularly common throughout Canada and in the northeast region of the United States.
Black bears are omnivores, which means they eat both meat and plants. Their typical diet consists of shoots and buds from young trees and bushes, berries, roots, salmon from mountain streams, and insects, such as ants, yellow jackets and bees. Black bears do not typically prey on larger mammals, although there have been some reported cases of them preying on deer when food is scarce.
During the winter months, black bears retreat to dens, which they build in caves or dense brush. Some black bears even spend the winter in a tree. Once in their den or tree for the winter, bears enter a state of hibernation. For three to five months, they do not eat, drink, urinate or defecate. Their metabolism slows down, and their heart rate drops from about 40 beats per minute to just eight beats per minute. Bears emerge from hibernation in the spring when the temperature begins to rise. Unlike some hibernating animals, black bears may wake up and forage periodically in the winter if there are warm spells.