What Do Black Bears Eat?

The American black bear is the smallest and most common bear in North America. Despite their name, black bears can be brown, blue-black, blue-gray, cinnamon, or even white. They are also exemplary tree climbers and can be found in the forest. Some, however, live in swamps or on mountains.

In this article, we explore a common question: What do black bears eat? If you are traveling through North America, plan to visit Yellowstone Bear World and get to experience Yellowstone Bears in all their glory.

 

Average Food Consumption

The American black bear is small compared to other bears. This means that it has a relatively low food consumption rate. However, it needs to store enough fat to last through the winter season. Black bears might eat for 20 hours a day and put on 100 pounds every week during the fall. This consumption, on average, translates to 20,000 calories a day.

A black bear will consume 5,000 calories during spring and summer.

 

Dietary Needs

American black bears are omnivorous. Their diet often includes both plants and meat. Nonetheless, a significant portion of their food is plant-based, including grasses, berries, and roots. Other food the black bear enjoys include:

  • Insects and larvae
  • Fish
  • Succulent plants
  • Honey
  • Carrion
  • Meat from young deer, moose, elk, and livestock such as sheep

Bears can get easily habituated to human foods and garbage. This includes pet or livestock food. When this happens, they can be killed for being considered dangerous or a nuisance.

 

Food Consumption by Season

Generally, black bears are opportunistic eaters. They feed on a variety of plants and meat as they become available throughout the year. Here is what their diet looks like in different seasons:

  •       Spring

During spring, flowers and leaves contain their highest protein content of the year. They are also easier to digest as their cell walls have not developed cellulose and lignin. Black bears will feed on clovers, dandelions, catkins, and grasses. For protein, they might eat deer fawns or moose calves.

  •       Summer

Throughout the summer, various berries and soft fruits become available. A black bear will feed on strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, dogwoods, chokecherries, and wild sarsaparilla. It will also turn to ants, wasps, and bumblebees for protein.

  •       Fall

As mentioned, bears will try to pack as much fat as possible during fall. This reserve is to see them through hibernation in winter. Those that live on the coast will turn to fish for protein. Elsewhere, black bears will rely on grasses, roots, wounded animals, and carrion.

  •       Winter

Black bears, like grizzly bears, will retreat to their winter dens in November and December. The aim is to evade the winter snow and rain as well as lack of food. This means that they will not feed and will rely on the reserve they packed on during fall.

However, many bears living in warmer climates forgo hibernation. Instead, they feed on human foods or garbage. Some feed on winter-killed animals.

 

Schedule a Visit at the Yellowstone Bear World

The Yellowstone Bear World is a drive-thru wildlife park. We are the number one wildlife attraction in Idaho. As you drive through, you can experience free-roaming black bears. You can also enjoy other wildlife such as Rocky Mountain Goats and the Bison.

Have you always wanted to see an American black bear? You can. Contact us today online or at 208.359.9688 to schedule your tour.

We look forward to seeing you!

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