Are there bears in Mexico or not? - Find out!

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When we talk about bears, undoubtedly there is no person who cannot distinguish which animal we are referring to. Bears have been the source of inspiration for cartoons, drawings, and also myths and legends. Some are more charismatic and, therefore, better known than others, for example, we all know very well the face of the panda or the polar bear. Other species of bears do not suffer the same fate, which, due to their physical features or their situation, are not so striking and emblematic.

Now, when we talk about bears according to geographical area, the issue becomes more complex and it can be more difficult to know which species inhabit a certain place. For example, do you know if are there bears in Mexico or not? If you find it of interest, continue reading this post by Green Ecologist in which you will learn if there really are bears in Mexico or there were.

Are there bears in Mexico or not?

Let's start by discovering the answer to this question. Yes, in Mexico there are species of bears. This fact is not at all strange if we take into account that Mexico is considered a megadiverse country in relation to the species of flora and fauna it harbors. Even within the world ranking of megadiverse countries, Mexico is ranked number 5, with more than 560 species of mammals, including bear species.

As to what types of bears are there in Mexico, it is about those who belong to the family of the Ursids, a taxonomic group that includes large animals and that are distributed mainly in the northern hemisphere. In the following sections we will develop the bear species that exist in Mexico.

Black bear

The black bear or American black bearUrsus americanus), has a wide distribution in North America, encompassing Alaska, Canada, the United States and Mexico. With respect to where does the black bear live in Mexico, its historical distribution comprised from the north to the center of the country, but due to the degradation of its habitat, the current distribution of the black bear is limited to North of the country. These are some of its main characteristics:

  • This species is characterized by being the largest carnivore in Mexico, thus being the top predator of the trophic chain of the ecosystems it inhabits. However, it also feeds on fruits, seeds, and insects.
  • Regarding its physical characteristics, it stands out for its long snout, robust body and long legs.
  • Although their name can be misleading, not all black bears are black. In fact, some can be dark brown and even beige.
  • Regarding their habits, although bears hibernate in winter, it is believed that in Mexico black bears do not hibernate strictly. Hibernation depends on climatic factors, food availability and length of the day. Therefore, those bears that live in the heights, where the conditions are more adverse, possibly spend the winter hibernating, but not necessarily those bears that live in prairies, where the environmental conditions are more pleasant.

Mexican gray bear

The Mexican gray bearUrsus arctos nelsoni), also called silver bear, is a subspecies of the brown bear (Ursus arctos) originally from the southern United States and northern Mexico. Sadly, since 1964 this species is considered extinct, due to the strong persecution that this species suffered for being considered, according to the society of the moment, as a plague.

In Mexico, the silver bear inhabited both grasslands and mountainous areas with pine trees. Their diet was omnivorous and included plants, fruits, seeds, insects, smaller vertebrate animals and carrion. Due to its height and weight, it was considered the largest animal in Mexico.

Image: Wikipedia

Bears in danger of extinction in Mexico

If you read this far, you will know that there are two species of bears in Mexico. The Mexican gray bear is completely extinct. Now, what is the situation of the other species, the black bear? Is the Mexican black bear in danger of extinction? Let's see, according to the Red Lists of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the global situation of the black bear is classified as Least Concern and its populations are estimated to be increasing. This is mainly due to stable black bear populations in the United States and Canada. Unfortunately, the same is not true for the black bear populations of Mexico. In fact, at the regional level, in Mexico the black bear is in danger of extinction. The causes that threaten the existence of the black bear in this area are:

  • Loss and fragmentation of habitat. Deforestation and change in land use lead to the destruction of black bear habitat.
  • Poaching. Because they are considered a threat to humans and to livestock agricultural productions.
  • Illegal commerce. In particular, certain parts of your body are searched.
  • Run over on routes and roads.
  • Pollution. Black bears have been sighted, with increasing frequency, feeding from garbage cans, which severely affects their health.

We also recommend reading this other article about Bears in danger of extinction around the world.

If you want to read more articles similar to Are there bears in Mexico?, we recommend that you enter our category of Animal Curiosities.

  • Mexican Biodiversity, Silver Bear. National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity. Available at:
  • Llorente-Bousquets, J., & S. Ocegueda. 2008. State of knowledge of the biota, in Natural Capital of Mexico, vol. I: Current knowledge of biodiversity. Conabio, Mexico, pp. 283-322.
  • IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Web:
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