White Mountains Online

Black Bear. . . (Ursus americana)


One of the larger Arizona mammals, the black bear can also have a blond, reddish ("cinnamon"), or brown coat. An omnivore with an acute sense of smell, black bears may find their way into your campsite should any food or garbage be left out.

Description: Large and lumbering, black bears can be up to three feet at the shoulder and weigh up to 400 pounds.

Habitat: Black bears are found in chaparral, pine, and aspen-fir forested areas throughout the state at elevations ranging from 4,000 to 10,000 feet.

Food Preferences: Being omnivores, black bears feed on both plants and animals. The bulk of their diet, though, are berries, roots, grass, cactus fruits, insects, and occasionally small mammals or carcasses.

Breeding notes: Black bears breed in July. Remarkably, the young (usually two per female) are born to a hibernating mother in its den during January. Newborn bears weigh just a little over an ounce. The young feed on milk from their unsuspecting mother until she wakes a few months later and emerges from her den. Cubs stay with their mother for about 1.5 years and generally disperse their second fall.

Predators or Enemies: Practically none

Size Individual Range: 7-50 square miles

Distribution: 4,000-10,000 feet, in forest areas throughout Arizona

Live Weight: Male: 350 lbs. / Female 250 lbs.

Hunting hints: Hunters can benefit from scouting for berry patches or oak stands. It's best to scout prior to your hunt in the early morning or late evening hours. Look for sign (tracks and scat) of bears along trails and in feeding areas. An Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests map is essential.

Hunting Hot Spots:

  • Hannagan Meadow Area: Hannagan Meadow offers high elevation mixed conifer habitat interspersed with small openings and riparian meadows. Look for bears foraging on berries along streams or on acorns in Gambel oak stands. The Hannagan Meadows area is accessed by FR24 and FR25.
  • East Eagle Creek: Characterized by deep canyons, heavy vegetation, numerous side creeks, and few open areas. However, several trails allow for good access. Look for sign along the pine tree "strings" on the canyon bottoms and also on trails. Access is via Highway 191. Stray Horse Campground is a few miles north.
  • Sheep Wash/Cottonwood Canyon: Vegetation is mostly pinyon pine-juniper grasslands. While there are not many trails, the openness of the area lends itself to relatively easy cross-country walking. Find a good high point and use binoculars to glass the landscape. Often, bears from the nearby San Carlos Indian Reservation travel through the area. Access is via FR217 or Highway 191.
Published with the permission of: Arizona Game & Fish Department Region 1, Pinetop. HC 66, Box 57201, Pinetop, AZ 85935, (928) 367-4281. If you would like to visit the home page for the Arizona Game & Fish Department, you may find the Department at www.gf.state.az.us.