Black Bear Population

The black bear is actually British Columbia’s most thoroughly distributed large mammal, with only the provinces large urban cores out of its reach. While tough enough to occupy the province’s roughest mountain terrain, the black bear can also make its home on the outer coast and islands of British Columbia. Only 5 of the black bears natural habitat in BC has been permanently forsaken for human development. While a larger percentage of the land supports significant human settlements, black bears, unlike their grizzly counterparts, are actually tolerant of moderate human interaction and unthreatened by close proximity to man. Despite their adaptability, major highways and transportation networks have fragmented and displaced some large black bear constituencies, which has affected population growth patterns in certain areas.Overall, however, black bear population in British Columbia is at an all time high, somewhere in between a total estimated count of 120,000 to 160,000 bears. Historical figures suggest that increased human development has done little to hurt or slow the increase of the black bear’s natural population figures. Over a century ago, in 1870, when the land much more sparsely settled by humans, there were only believed to around 80,000 black bears in the area. Despite large numbers of big game hunters and trappers across North America who set out to kill or capture the bears, the species is astonishingly resilient, boasting large total numbers not only in British Columbia, but all of Canada and much of the Northwest United States, with spotted populations throughout the continental U.S. In fact, black bears are the most common large carnivore in the entire continent. BC remains one of the black bear’s favorite homes, hosting more black bears than any other individual Canadian province, and 30 of the country’s total black bear population. Approximately 15 of all North American black bears can be found within the borders of British Columbia.

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