New Mexico black bear (© calopteryx – CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)


Accepted scientific name:  Ursus americanus amblyceps  ( Baird, 1859)

Description:  Medium sized black bear, adult males weighing between around 90 and 180 kg and adult females between around 45 and 114 kg.  Length of adult bears averages around 170 cm for males and 150 cms for females.

Range:  Southwest USA in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, eastern Arizona and southeastern Utah.  Also in the extreme north of Mexico (see map below).Historical distribution of Ursus americanus subspecies in Mexico U. a. amblyceps 2. U. a. machetes 3. U. a. eremicus (Hall, 1981; IUCN, 1999)

Habitat:  Mainly found in forests, particularly in mountainous areas. When habitat becomes limited or degraded, sub-adults will move to areas close to human  populations, for example during drought conditions, as many as 25 sub-adult bears have wandered into Albuquerque and surrounding communities in late summer and autumn in search of food.

Status:  Not in danger and numbers are closely monitored to prevent over-hunting.

Life span:  In the wild 20 to 25 years,but in  New Mexico in most of their range where they are hunted the average is around seven or eight years.

Food:  New Mexico black bears are omnivorous.  In spring they eat grasses, flowering plants, roots, insects and carrion.  In summer the diet expands to include berries, fruit and honey; and in autumn acorns, pinon nuts, and juniper berries.   They will also eat small rodents and occasionally prey upon livestock.

Behaviour:. Breeding usually begins when a female reaches five or six years of age.  Mating takes place between mid-May and July with the cubs born in the winter den in January or February.  Bears emerge from their dens in April or May.  Cubs remain with their mother for around eighteen months during which time she will not become pregnant again.

Threats:  Hunting, conflict with humans and poaching including for body-parts.


This page was compiled in part from information provided by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

See also  A Study of  Black Bear Ecology in New Mexico (2001)

Page updated 16 February 2021