Habitat

Bears' habitats vary from species to species. The polar bear thrives on the arctic ice pack, a sharp contrast to the tropical rainforests of southeast Asia, where the Malayan sun bear resides. The American black bear's habitat spreads from the woods in western U.S. mountains to wetlands in southeastern

An American black bear (Ursus americanus) and North American beaver (Castor canadensis) fighting in a stream in Wyoming, USA. (Photo by J. Wright. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

states, and to the northern tundra in Canada. In contrast, the shaggy-looking sloth bear opts for grasslands and dry forests from lowlands in India to the foothills of the Himalayas.

The brown bear, also known in parts of North America as the grizzly or kodiak, ranges from thickly forested areas into grasslands and tundra in the Northern Hemisphere, while the spectacled bear prefers lush mountain forests in South America. The giant panda lives in the bamboo forests of China, and the Asiatic black bear in primarily moist forests throughout southern Asia.

Home ranges for bears also vary. Pandas keep to about 2-3 mi2, but brown bears are known to range over 800-1,000 mi2 if the habitat is poor and food is scarce.

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