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What Do Grizzly Bears Hunt?

Bears are omnivores with digestive systems that are less specialized than those of carnivores. Bears are unique among carnivores because they have a comprehensive digestive system, an adaptation that helps them digest plant matter more efficiently. Bears, unlike ruminants, lack a cecum and hence have a far more challenging time breaking down the structural components of plants. Foraging for plants at their peak nutritional availability and absorbability throughout their phenological phases is one-way bears compensate for their poor cellulose digestion.

So, what do grizzly bears hunt? The best foods for grizzly bears in the GYE include army cutworm moths, Whitebark pine nuts, ungulates, and cutthroat trout. For the least amount of time spent foraging, these items provide the most bang for the buck in terms of nutrition. The availability of some foods changes from year to year, which affects the diet of grizzly bears. We’ll cover the feeding habits of grizzly bears in three seasons, including:

  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Fall


From March through May, a grizzly bear’s diet consists mainly of ungulates like elk and bison. Grizzly bears consume ungulates primarily in the form of carrion from animals killed by winter or wolves; however, they can prey on young elk. At the beginning of the spring, adult bison are a favorite target, particularly giant male grizzly bears.

Grizzly bears will dig up their burrows to get to the hidden caches when pocket gophers are plentiful in a specific location. Succulent grasses and sedges are also eaten when they begin to green up in the spring, along with dandelion, clover, spring beauty, horsetail, and even ants. When there is a good harvest of over-wintered seeds from the previous autumn, grizzly bears will also eat whitebark pine seeds that red squirrels have hidden in their caches for the following spring.


Grizzly bears continue to eat honeydew-rich grasses and sedges, dandelion, clover, spring beauty, horsetail and ants during the summer months of June through August. In addition to army cutworms, moths, thistle, biscuit root, fireweed, fern-leaved lovage and army cutworms are consumed. By mid-July, most grizzly bears have lost their ability to capture elk calves, although the predation on calves continues. Bears eat cutthroat trout as they spawn in Yellowstone Lake regions.

Grizzly bears start eating berries, including strawberries, globe huckleberries, grouse whortleberries, and buffalo berries around the middle of summer. By late summer, grasses, sedges, and dandelions have been replaced by fake truffles, bistort, and yampa in the diet. Grizzly bears are known to steal ungulate corpses from wolf bands over the summer months. Grizzly bears feed on the bodies of male bison that have been gored and killed by other males during the late summer mating season.


In years when there is an abundance of seeds, whitebark pine nuts are the most significant food source for bears throughout September and October. But since it is a masting species, whitebark pine does not always have a large seed yield. In addition to apples, pumpkins, and squash, people also eat ants, false truffles, army cutworm moths, dandelion greens, clover, horsetail, dandelion, pond weed root, sweet cicely root, bistort root, yampa root, strawberry, globe huckleberry, grouse whortleberry, buffaloberry, clover, horsetail, dandelion, and dandelion green During the elk rut in the autumn. Some grizzly bears feed on mature male elk.

Grizzly bears tend to hunt a lot. While they can feed on plant material and meat, they prefer the latter more. That’s unlike black bears, which depend significantly on plant material. 

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