Black Bear Range

Black bears historically ranged over most of the forested regions of North America, including all Canadian provinces, Alaska, all states in the conterminous United States, and significant portions of northern Mexico (Hall 1981). Their current distribution is restricted to relatively undisturbed forested regions (Pelton 1982; Pelton et al. 1994).


Historical Rangea


1995 Rangeb

Black bears can still be found throughout Canada with the exception of Prince Edward Island (extirpated in 1937), and in at least 40 of the 50 states; their status in Mexico is uncertain (Leopold 1959).  In the eastern United States black bear range is continuous throughout New England but becomes increasingly fragmented from the mid-Atlantic down through the Southeast (Maehr 1984). In the Southeast, most populations are now restricted to the Appalachian mountain chain or to coastal areas intermittently in all states from Virginia to Louisiana (J. Wooding, Florida Freshwater Fish and Game Commission, unpublished data).

Above excerpted from:

Vaughan, M.R., and M.R. Pelton. 1995. Black bears in North America, pages 100-103 in E.T. LaRoe III, ed. Our Living Resources. USDI-NBS, Washington, D.C.


Hall, E.R. 1981. The mammals of North American 2nd ed. John Wiley and Sons. New York. 1.181 pp.

Leopold, A.S. 1959. Wildlife of Mexico. University of California Press. Berkley. 608 pp.

Maehr, D.S. 1984. Distribution of black bears in eastern North America. Eastern Workshop on Black Bear Research and Management 7:74.

Pelton, M.R. 1982. Black bear. Pages 504-514 in J.A. Chapman and G.A. Feldhamer, eds. Wild mammals of North America: biology, management, and economics. John Hopkins University Press. Baltimore and London.

Pelton, M.R., F. vanManen, A. Coley, K. Weaver, J. Pedersen, and T. Eason. 1994. Black bear conservation action plan—North America. IUCN/SSC Bear Specialist Group Tech. Rep. In press.

Range Map Notes 

a modified from Hall 1981
b based on survey responses from provinces and states (Pelton 1994) and research projects in Mexico (D. Doan, Texas A & I Univ., pers. comm.)



Basic Bear Facts (article list)

Help support the North American Bear Center

We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit that relies entirely on the support of visitors, merchandise sales and people like you. We do not receive any state or federal funding.

Help support our mission.

Donate Now

1926 Highway 169 • PO Box 161 • Ely MN 55731 • (218) 365-7879 • [email protected]