American black bears (Ursus americanus) historically inhabited every province and territory in Canada, all continental states in the United States (U.S.), and northern states of Mexico. We used BearsWhere?, an Internet mapping tool, to survey bear biologists in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. and estimate the current range of black bears using 4 categories: primary range and secondary range (which together comprise total range), bear sighting locations outside range, and no bears reported. Primary and secondary ranges in 12 Canadian provinces and territories, 40 states in the U.S., and 6 states in Mexico totaled 10.5 million km2, representing 65–75% of the species' historical range. Total bear range in Canada was 6.9 million km2, representing 95–100% of its historical range. Prince Edward Island was the only province with no bear range or sightings. Total range in the U.S. was 3.5 million km2, representing 45–60% of U.S. historical range. Respondents reported occasional sightings but no primary or secondary range in 6 U.S. states (IA, KS, NE, ND, OH, and SD), and bears were absent from the District of Columbia and the remaining 4 states (DE, HI, IL, and IN). Only primary range data were available in Mexico, consisting of approximately 99,000 km2 across portions of 6 states (Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo Leon, Sonora, and Tamaulipas). Our ability to detect a change in bear range was limited, but notable expansion of primary range since the mid-1990s was confirmed in Virginia and North Carolina.
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Vol. 25 • No. 1