If you know bears, then you know North Carolina is home to the largest black bears in America. The state’s record-holding bear was so enormous, in fact, that he’s likely one of the largest to ever live.
Identifying the largest individual of any species is never as easy as it sounds. Everything from conflicting reports to inflated claims convolute the facts. Which is especially true when it comes to the American black bear.
Typically, American black bears (Ursus americanus) weigh in the range of 100 to 400 pounds, with most males being exceptionally larger than females. Males, or boars, will even exceed 500 pounds. Any black bear pushing 600 pounds is exceptional as a result. But 800 to 900 pounds? Now that’s grounds for a genuine record holder and truly behemoth black bear.
Such is the case for North Carolina, which has the largest black bears (according to yearly scientific surveys) in the United States. And according to ECU’s historical libraries, the largest recorded black bear to ever be harvested in North Carolina was a whopping 880 pounds.
The Largest Black Bear in North Carolina History
“The state black bear record, and perhaps the world record, was broken in November, 1998, when Coy Parton killed an 880-pound bear near Vanceboro in Craven County. The bear exceeded the old state record by 160 pounds,” cites Wildlife in North Carolina, Vol. 63 Issue 2, Feb 1999, p34.
To this day, this remains one of the largest black bears ever harvested, and one of the largest – if not the largest – in North Carolina history. And although no measurements outside weight exist for this bear, examining other record-breakers gives us a solid idea of the sheer height of this animal.
According to 1983’s edition of The Guinness Book of Animal Facts & Feats, the biggest wild American black bear ever recorded was a male from New Brunswick that was shot in November of 1972. He would weigh 902 pounds after being dressed. This means he likely weighed an astounding 1,100 pounds in life as he stood 7.9 feet tall (2.41 meters). By these measurements, a bear of the Craven County behemoth’s size would likely be around 7 feet tall.
Other Enormous Bears Throughout History
Curiously, the same Guinness edition cites “another notably outsized wild American black bear” weighing in at 899 pounds (408 kg) in total. This bear was shot and killed on the Moqui Reservation in Arizona. This happened all the way back in December of 1921, however. Today, this “record” is unlikely to hold up as it would predate most state, federal, and international organizations.
Of course, bears that only know captivity are able to grow at astounding rates. The absence of competition and struggling to survive on a daily basis does wonders for the body, after all. Which is exactly why the North American Bear Center’s Ted may be the largest ever. In the fall of 2006, officials would estimate Ted’s weight at around 950 to 1000 pounds.