By Kirk Deeter The American black bear is the most prevalent bear in North America, with a range extending from Alaska into Mexico, from California to Nova Scotia. Curiously, all black bears are not black. While they are all the same species (Ursus Americanus), different color variations, called phases, include brown, cinnamon, tan, blonde and white, in addition to black. According to the American Bear Association the black phase is most prevalent in the eastern regions of the United States and Canada, thus European settlers arriving on the continent gave the species the "black bear" moniker. Don Jones
While considered less dangerous than their grizzly bear counterparts, black bears are not to be underestimated. They have an uncanny sense of smell and good eyesight, and are extremely powerful. It is easy for some people to confuse a large brown or cinnamon phase black bear with a grizzly. The most notable differences are that black bears have smaller heads in proportion to their bodies, and do not have the distinctive grizzly hump at the shoulders. Black bear claws are also more curved, making them extremely efficient tree climbers.