Mexican black bear photographed in Big Bend National Park, Texas, USA (US National Park Service – Lillie Cogswell)

Accepted scientific name:  Ursus americanus eremicus (Clinton Hart Merriam, 1904)

Description:    Medium sized black bear, adult males weighing around 90 to 180 kg and adult females around 45 to 110 kg.

Range:  Exact range in Mexico is poorly defined but recorded in the states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, Zacatecas and Durango.  Chiso Mountains in Texas, USA (including within the Big Bend National Park).

Historical distribution of U. americanus subspecies in Mexico: U. a. amblyceps 2. U. a. machetes 3. U. a. eremicus (Hall, 1981; IUCN, 1999)

Habitat:  Low elevation desert scrub and in juniper, piñon pine, madrone, oak, and persimmon woodlands in mountainous areas and their foothills.

Status:  There is strong evidence that Mexican black bears are increasing in numbers and, as a result, dispersing northwards into Texas in the Hill Country and along the Rio Grande; nevertheless numbers remain small.  Mexico has listed black bears as in danger of extinction and the bears are listed as endangered in Texas.

Life span:  No definite data but presumed to be around 20 years in the wild.Food:  Pine nuts, nuts, berries, acorns, prickly pear fruit, sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri), yucca, roots, inner pulp of trees, insects and small mammals.

Behaviour:  Mating occurs in June and July with birth taking place in January or February in the winter den.  Due to the relatively mild climate and availability of food Mexican black bears do not hibernate as such but will come and go to and from winter dens or nests for three or four months between mid-December and mid- April.  Litters are typically of two or three cubs and they will remain with their mother for around 18 months, during which time she will not become pregnant again.

Threats:  Historically black bears in México have been severely affected by habitat loss, poaching, and illegal trade in body parts and skins.  In recent times attitudes towards black bears seem to have improved but poaching remains an issue and climate change could threaten some of the plants and insects which make up the bears’ diet.


Black bears in Mexico: an update of literature reviewPublished in 2013 this article presents a summary of black bear research in terms of historical and current distribution in Mexico, and offers an updated picture of current black bear topics in Mexico.

Page updated 10 May 2019