Mar 06 2019
By Bernie Barringer
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Black bears come in a variety of colors, some of which defy description and some are multi-colored. But for the purpose of clarity, we can generally divide the colors into four categories. Black, cinnamon, blonde and chocolate. More than 90% of the black bears in North America are black in color. The western half of the US and Canada has all the other colors, of which chocolate is most common among the colors other than black. The vast majority of color phase bears are found west of the Mississippi River, and a line that would extend northward into Canada. Biologists speculate bear populations that bear that have lived in thick forest for thousands of years are darker, while bears in more open country can be lighter in color.
The Grand Slam of Color Phase bears is when a hunter harvests all color phases. Sounds simple right? Chocolate or dark brown bears are found in a line from the western edge of Minnesota and Ontario south to Arkansas and west of that line. Cinnamon bears can be found scattered throughout the Rocky Mountains, Cascade Mountains and west to California and much of Western Canada including Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. Blonde bears are found in generally the same areas as the cinnamons, but are more prevalent in the southern Rockies than anywhere else, where blondes and cinnamons can make up as much as 35% of the population. There are pockets in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta where blonde bears can make up to about 10% of the bear population.
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