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The Black Bear in Gaspésie, Canada


The Black Bear is one of the most famous wild animals in North America. Especially because humans are often not far from them in their natural environment. Encounters with Black Bears are often unforgettable. However, caution is required. Although the Black Bear is afraid of man, it is important to be respectful and careful when you are in the forest and the area is occupied by the species.

The Black Bear frequents various natural habitats. He likes dense, mixed conifer and hardwood forests with thickets, clearings and rivers. Much smaller than its cousin Grizzli, it remains nevertheless stocky and massive. It is on average 1.50m long and up to 1.20m high. As its name indicates, its coat is generally black but it often has a white spot on the chest or on the lower part of the throat. Its legs are powerful, with 5 claws bent, not retractable, which it uses to dig, pull stumps or even move old tree trunks in search of food. Its diet consists mainly of plants, especially in late summer and autumn, when fruits and other nuts abound. Its favorite fruits are blueberries, wild strawberries, black cherries and apples but it does not refuse to linger on acorns and hazelnuts. It sometimes eats insects such as ants that it finds by returning tree trunks. In spring, it sometimes becomes predatory and even scavenger. There are documented cases of predation on young moose or even birds. In other words, it's a real opportunist! As winter approaches, the Black Bear will build a den to hibernate. It can slightly reduce its body temperature and considerably reduce its heart rate and breathing. It only survives with its fat reserves. However, the Black Bear is not considered a true hibernator because it can wake up quite easily if disturbed, and it can temporarily leave its den when the weather is exceptionally mild.

Home range is relatively small for females (10 to 40 sqkm) whereas that of adult males generally occupies several female territories and reaches more than 100 sqkm. It is found in greater numbers where human presence is low.

There are no reliable estimates of the Black Bear population in North America as it is very difficult to enumerate by its timidity and discretion. However, figures exist and mention about 600,000 individuals including 380,000 in Canada and 70,000 in Quebec. The Black Bear is not threatened, it is considered "minor concern" according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The Forillon National Park in Gaspésie is an area of choice to observe the Black Bear. The variety of habitats, landscapes and the fact that Gaspésie is very sparsely populated by humans seems to please the Black Bear which local population is well maintained. Let's stay discreet to have the chance to observe it!

If you wish to observe and photograph the Black Bear among many other incredible animals, join us on our ethical nature photo tour to Gaspésie.


If you dream of seeing and photographing moose, caribou, black bears and an incredible number of magnificent bird species, this 10 day nature photo trip in Gaspésie is for you!


Guide Salva Fauna

References :

Relations entre le régime alimentaire et la dynamique des populations chez l’ours noir : revue de littérature et des informations disponibles au Québec, Forêt, Faune et Parcs Québec. PDF : (consulté le 11/06/2019).

Fédération Canadienne de la Faune, Faune et Flore du Pays, l’ours noir : (consulté le 11/06/2019).

Union internationale pour la conservation de la nature (UICN), American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) : (consulté le 11/06/2019).