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Black Bears What Do They Eat?

Black bears belong among the largest mammals, weighing between 200 and 600 pounds. They can live up to 20 years with a proper diet. Despite being dubbed “black bears,” they can have blue-black, brown, cinnamon, and blue-gray hues. Unlike their aggressive cousins, the grizzly bears, black bears are harmless but won’t give a second thought when provoked. The American bear’s natural habitat is in the forest because they are excellent climbers but won’t mind living in the swamps and mountains. So, black bears, what do they eat?


Black bears are predominantly omnivorous, making them opportunistic feeders. They can eat whatever they will find, provided it’s within their reach, including fish, grasses, and mammals. Though they have predatory tendencies, 75% of their diet is plants. They supplement the rest with mammals, insects, and fish.

Like any other mammal, a black bear enjoys devouring special foods such as:

  •         Elk
  •         Catfish
  •         Voles
  •         Hazelnuts
  •         Acorns
  •         Berries
  •         Bees
  •         Salmon
  •         Succulents
  •         Worms
  •         Honey
  •         Carrion
  •         Tree roots and bark
  •         Grubs
  •         Dandelions
  •         Processed human food products

From their food choices, it is easy to tell they require carbs, vitamins, minerals, and proteins to be healthy and strong. While they’re considered apex predators, a black bear won’t hesitate to kill and eat anything it finds in its way. However, they are less likely to hunt large animals like sharks and lions despite their strong hunting skills.

What inspires black bears to locate their foods

Like any other animal in the wild, bears have adapted to locating their food in the following ways:

  1.       A sharp sense of smell

Black bears rely on their sharp sense of smell to find food lying in wait for miles away. Because of this, they are likely to locate human food, prompting them to trespass homes and campsites. They can also differentiate food suitable for them through their strong sense of smell.

  1.       Strong nocturnal vision

Unlike humans, black bears have an excellent sense of vision even at night. It motivates them to hunt at night and enter people’s homes when they are asleep.

  1.       Climbing and swimming prowess

When a black bear spots prey on top of a tree, it will use its sharp claws to climb. Their swimming prowess is also another privilege they take advantage of to prey on fish.

  1.       Excellent sprinting ability

Did you know that a black bear can sprint at a speed of 25 mph or more if they lean? For example, if the bear wants to chase after you in the wild, it’ll only take about a minute before they catch you. When preying on fish or honey, all they need to do is to dig into the small spaces and shallow waters to find what they’re looking for.


Black bears’ omnivorous tendencies help them access a wide range of foods in the wild, making them spoilt for choices. Their ability to locate prey through swimming, sprinting, sense of smell, and nocturnal vision is another selling point they’ve taken advantage of over the years. To learn more about black bears, visit the Yellowstone Bear World today.

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