Home Animals Black Bears in New York (Diet, Lifestyle, Habitat, more)

Black Bears in New York (Diet, Lifestyle, Habitat, more)

black bears

Black Bears are a captivating species to observe, despite their intimidating size and strength. New York is home to the American black bear and neighbours Canada, which serves the largest population of black bears in the world. This indicates that there is a healthy population of black bears in the state, with sightings becoming more and more frequent within New York’s forests now that conservation efforts are increasing.

black bears in new york

Are there Black bears in New York?

New York State is home to a variety of wild creatures and species, but did you know it is also home to black bears? Historical records indicate that the black bear population in New York has been stable for more than a century, with an estimated 7,000 – 8,000 black bears living in the state today. Sightings have been reported throughout the state and almost every county within the boundaries of New York is known to host at least a small black bear population. Recent research into this fascinating species suggests that with proper management, black bears could make their way back into their former territories across the state.

Where are Black bears located in New York?

The range of the black bear in New York is far-reaching, extending from the southeastern part of the state to the northeastern Adirondack Mountains and Lake Ontario. Large bears are even spotted as far west as Buffalo in a few areas. In Central New York, their range extends along the western edge of the Tughill Plateau, down into Western Catskill Mountain valleys. Most of their habitat consists of forests abundant with berry-bearing plants and mountain ridges for hibernating through winter.


Black Bears are the largest mammals in New York, and they thrive in many different habitats throughout the state. They can be found living in mountainous regions, forests, wetlands, swamps and farmland in upstate New York. Although Black Bears do venture into residential areas looking for food sources such as bird feeders or pet food dishes left out on porches, most of their day-to-day activity takes place in wooded areas and shrublands where they search for berries and build dens for raising their young. 


They are opportunistic feeders and eat fruits, nuts, insects, honey and anything else that will provide them with sustenance. In the summer months, they prefer to consume plant foods such as berries or other sweet material whilst, during the winter, they tend to dine on carrion and small prey such as rodents or deer.

black bears in open


New York is home to black bears of all shades: from a dark midnight hue to an almost chocolate-like brown or even a cinnamon or honey-toned coat. This wide range of colours can be found among both male and female black bears, though males tend to have darker coats overall. 

Size, Lifespan and Weight 

The average black bear will weigh between 150 to 600 pounds, or even more in some cases. In terms of length, an adult black bear can have a total standing size of 3 to 7 feet. Furthermore, black bears are long-lived species with a lifespan of approximately 15 – 25 years when living in the wild, and up to 30 years when in captivity. 


Bears in New York have the occasional run-in with some of their more vicious predators, such as coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions. Fortunately for the bears, they are generally much larger than their predators and can often repel the attack. Still, if the predator sees an opportunity like a bear cub being left alone for even just a few minutes it might rush in to feed or carry away the smaller animal.

This is something all bear families should keep in mind when venturing into New York’s forests and mountain ranges; while they may never see any of these predators on their travels, they must still be aware that they could be nearby lurking in shadows or behind tall grasses.

black bear in wild


Black bears are equipped with sophisticated reproductive strategies that have allowed the species to thrive, even in the face of intense competition for resources. Their mating period starts in mid-May, although different populations have slight variations in timing. During this time, female bears will mate with multiple males and store sperm from each mating until wintertime when she enters into a state of delayed implantation.

This means that although her body can hold onto multiple sets of sperm at once, it won’t begin the process of producing cubs until later on in the year. A few months after entering hibernation, she’ll give birth to litters averaging two cubs (though litters can range between one and four). The mother bear will raise these cubs on her own over the winter before they venture out on their own come springtime.

How many bears are in New York?

Although there has been no official count on how many bears live in New York State, there are estimated to be anywhere between 6500 and 8000.


Do Black Bears hibernate in New York?

The answer is yes! Black Bears residing in New York hibernate throughout the cold winter months. 

When do black bears hibernate in New York?

Black bears in New York typically hibernate during the coldest, darkest months of the year. Generally, this means that bears start to look for dens and prepare for torpor in late October and early November, with hibernation kicking into full gear from mid-November through March or April. 




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A motivated philosophy graduate and student of wildlife conservation with a deep interest in human-wildlife relationships, including wildlife communication, environmental education, and conservation anthropology. Offers strong interpersonal, research, writing, and creativity skills.

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A motivated philosophy graduate and student of wildlife conservation with a deep interest in human-wildlife relationships, including wildlife communication, environmental education, and conservation anthropology. Offers strong interpersonal, research, writing, and creativity skills.


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