Types of Black Bears – Lower Classifications

We already know that there are different kinds of bears but within the bear family, there are several subspecies of certain bears. For example, there are a few different types of brown bears just as we’re about to list the different types of black bears.

An American black bear eating grass in a grassy field.
American Black Bear

Not all lower classifications of black bears have black fur. As you’ll soon learn, some have white, beige, or even brown fur. Here are the different black bear species alive today with names and pictures.

American Black Bear

The American black bear is the smallest bear species that live in North America. These bears have short, non-retractable claws that allow them to climb trees. Save for a brown muzzle and lighter markings on the chest area, these bears have predominantly black fur.

However, there are instances of some American black bears (particularly in the west) that have a mixture of brown, cinnamon, and blond coloration in addition to black.

American black bear grazing on grass.

Kermode Bear

The Kermode bear is only found in the Central and North Coast regions of British Columbia, Canada. It’s a very rare subspecies of the American black bear and is also known as the spirit bear due to its white fur.

They mainly feed on salmon during the Autumn. However, they also feed on berries, plants, and fruits. Insects and other mammals are also part of their diet.

Kermode bear sitting on rocks.
Kermode Bear

Cinnamon Bear

The cinnamon bear resides in the central and western areas of the United States and Canada. The only big difference between this bear and the common black bear is that the cinnamon bear has a reddish-brown coat from which its name is derived.

A cinnamon bear looking over tall grass.

Florida Black Bear

The Florida black bear is found mainly in protected areas of Florida, Southern Alabama, Southern Georgia and Southern Mississippi. These protected areas include Ocala National Forest, Big Cypress National Preserve, Everglades National Park, Apalachicola National Forest, Osceola National Forest, and Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

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These bears mainly feed on berries, acorns, insects, saw palmetto and sabal palm fruits, honey and bee larvae. Although, when available, they are known to eat armadillos, wild pigs, and deer. During the summer, molting may cause these bears to appear to have brown hair but, for the most part, their hair remains black throughout the year.

A Florida black bear searches through a knocked over trash bin in search of food.

Glacier Bear

The glacier bear is a subspecies of American black bear that has silver-blue or gray hair. Although, the color of an individual glacier bear can vary, with lighter tones on the bear’s back and shoulders and dark hair on the legs and belly. It lives in areas surrounding Southeast Alaska.

A glacier bear with her cubs.

Louisiana Black Bear

There’s hardly any difference in physical appearance between the Louisiana black bear and the normal American black bear. However, some have noted that the former has a relatively long skull that’s narrow and flat and the molars are proportionately large.

Between 1992 and 2016, this black bear was considered endangered due to the destruction of its habitat. However, after years of conservation efforts, it was finally removed from the list after a proposal was made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A Louisiana black bear standing on cut grass.

Olympic Black Bear

The Olympic black bear has been noted to be a medium-sized black bear; larger than the neighboring populations of California black bear and Cinnamon black bear. They are found in areas surrounding British Columbia southwards to northern California and inland to the tip of northern Idaho and British Columbia.

Olympic Black bear

California Black Bear

The California Black Bear can be found from the coastal mountains of Southern California to the Cascade Range in Central Oregon. 

California black bear standing in grass.

Kenai Black Bear

Kenai black bears are found only on the Kenai Peninsula, extending out from the south coast of Alaska USA for approximately 150 miles.

Kenai black bear and cub crossing a road.

Vancouver Island Black Bear

These black bears are slightly larger than mainland black bears with a massive skull. Unlike other black bears that may go through different color phases, the Vancouver Island black bear has black fur throughout the year.

Vancouver Island black bear eating grass.

Asiatic Black Bear

Asian black bears (Ursus thibetanus) or Asiatic black bear is a species of black bear native to Asia. These types of bears are also known as the moon bear because they have a crescent-shaped marking on their chests.

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Asiatic black bears can be found in the southern part of Asia, all the way from Pakistan, across the northern part of India and the southern part of China. There are also subspecies found in northeastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and southern Siberia. 

Baluchistan Black Bear

Baluchistan black bears (Ursus thibetanus gedrosianus) are a subspecies of the Asiatic black bear that lives in the Balochistan Mountains of southern Pakistan and Iran.

Asian black bear in what appears to be a palm tree.
Baluchistan Black Bear

Formosan Black Bear

Formosan black bears (Ursus thibetanus formosanus) are another type of Asian black bear that is found in the Himalayas, in the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent, Korea, northeastern China, the Russian Far East, the Honshū and Shikoku islands of Japan, and Taiwan.

Formosan black bear suckling cubs.

Himalayan Black Bear

Himalayan black bears (Ursus thibetanus laniger) can be found in the Himalayas of India, Tibet, Nepal, China, and Pakistan. These bears have longer, thicker fur and smaller, whiter chest mark than other subspecies of the Asian black bear.

Himalayan black bear sitting upright on the side of a hill.

Japanese Black Bear

Japanese black bears (Ursus thibetanus japonicus) are another black bear subspecies that live on three main islands of Japan: Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. There are said to be 10,000 black bears in Japan.

Types of Black Bears - Lower Classifications 1

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