Bears on the Endangered Species List

Polar bear and two cubs

There are eight species of bears in the world, and of the eight, six are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as threatened with extinction.

It’s important to keep in mind that even if large predators are not on the Endangered Species List, they are still highly vulnerable because wild animals around the world have lost and continue to lose their essential natural habitats to humans. In addition, they face risks, as we do, from the impacts of climate change.

Endangered Bears

Here is the list of the eight species of bears in the world and a notation for those who are at risk of extinction.

1. Brown Bear – Ursus arctos

Brown bears exist throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, according to the World Atlas. They, along with polar bears, are the two biggest terrestrial carnivores living in the world today. There are a variety of subspecies of brown bears, such as the grizzly bear, East Siberian brown bear, the Syrian brown bear, and the Tibetan blue bear.

For a glimpse of California’s great brown bear – the grizzly – check out this video from Yosemite National Park:

2. Polar Bear – Ursus maritimus – At Risk of Extinction

The polar bear generally lives within the geographical area that’s the Arctic Circle, of which the countries Canada, The United States, Russia, Greenland, and Norway have a foothold.

This video from Discovery UK gives you a glimpse of polar bears and adorable cubs in their native habitat, the island Svalbard, Norway.

3. Asian Black Bear – Ursus thibetanus – At Risk of Extinction

Asian black bear (Ursus thibetanus)
Asian black bear (Ursus thibetanus). Photo: Orlica.

The Asian black bear, known for the signature white moon-shaped crescent across their chest, is found in the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent, as well as northeastern China, eastern Russia, Korea, Taiwan, and some of the islands of Japan. Subspecies of the Asian black bear include the Baluchistan bear, the Himalayan black bear, the Tibetan black bear, and others.

4. American Black Bear – Ursus americanus

American black bear
American black bear (Ursus americanus). Photo: Thomas Fuhrmann

The American black bear is native to North America. They exist in Canada, throughout Alaska and the continental U.S., as well as Mexico.

5. Sun Bear – Helarctos malayanus – At Risk of Extinction

Southeast Asian sun bear
Southeast Asian sun bear (Helarctos malayanus). Photo: Keven Law.

The sun bear lives in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia, where their range includes the countries of India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Indonesia.

6. Sloth Bear – Melursus ursinus – At Risk of Extinction

Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus)
Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus). Photo: Wilfried Berns.

The sloth bear is native to the Indian subcontinent.

7. Spectacled Bear / Andean Bear – Tremarctos ornatus – At Risk of Extinction

Andean bear, or spectacled bear
Andean bear, or spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus). Photo: Futureman.

The spectacled bear, also referred to as the Andean bear, is the only living bear species that is native to South America. They are found in the Andes Mountain regions of Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Argentina.

8. Panda Bear – Ailuropoda melanoleuca – At Risk of Extinction

Panda bear
Panda bear (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). Photo: Benjamín Núñez González.

The panda bear is native to south central China.

Organizations that Protect Bears

If you care about bears, please do what you can to support organizations that are fighting to protect them. Here are a few:

The National Wildlife Federation

Center for Biological Diversity

Defenders of Wildlife

Polar Bears International

American Bear Association

World Wildlife Fund

Animals Asia

International Association for Bear Research

List of Bear Sanctuaries


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