Food Avaiability for grizzlies
A Bear's diet
Bears have a very interesting diet since they are a true lover of all food. Grizzly and black bears are omnivores which means that they eat plants, insects, fish and animals. Bears travel a lot through different habitats which makes it more difficult to always eat animals; their diet can be roughly 90% plants which is a lower calorie food source. Plants and insects are reliable for the bears to depend on while they are moving through different areas.
Bears have a very interesting diet since they are a true lover of all food. Grizzly and black bears are omnivores which means that they eat plants, insects, fish and animals.
Bears travel a lot through different habitats which makes it more difficult to always eat animals; their diet can be about 90% plants which is a lower calorie food source. Plants and insects are reliable for the bears to depend on while they are moving through different areas.
While the plants and insects are reliable, meat is an important source of protein and fat. Meat consists of higher calories which means that the bear gets fuller faster. Bear’s food habits have a lot to do with the seasonal variation of the food that is available.
When bears start to wake up from hibernation in the spring starting around March, there is usually still snow on the ground and the days are still cold. That means that they need to look for animals to hunt like elk and bison because the plants haven’t bloomed yet. Bloomed plants that are available in the spring tend to be found lower in elevation and which is often closer to residential. During this time be mindful that bears are waking up and are very hungry. This diet behavior usually goes until May when plants start to bloom and the days are warmer.
In the summer months, June through August, bears will be savaging for succulent grass, ants and cutworm moths. Until the end of July, they will also hunt for elk calves since they are easier to catch and do not expend as much energy. Grizzly bears will scavenge the remains of wolf kills throughout the summer. Once the days are longer and plants start to bloom, an important food source for bears are berries. Bears will devote most of their attention to this high energy food at this time.
Throughout the summer, grizzly bears scavenge the remains of wolf-killed ungulate carcasses usurped from wolf packs. Late in the summer during the breeding months, bears will hunt for other carcasses from bison that have been gored and die while competing for female bison.
HYPERPHagia & hibernation
Once the fall months arrive, bears have to be vigilant to eat as many calories and fatty food as possible before hibernation, this is called hyperphagia. When fall and winter start to approach, it is harder for bears to find food. Bears will turn to greenery or roots, which often are by water. They also wander looking for gut piles and wounded animals left by hunters. This is also the time bears will seek out opportunistic food left out by humans.
Once the snow starts to fall and the days get colder and shorter this is when the bears know it is time to start finding their dens for the winter. By this time they have consumed enough food and are able to start hibernating. In warmer areas, bears do not need to hibernate since there is food available year round.
Hibernation is a minimal activity state, this slows down the animals breathing, heartbeat and brings their body temperature down since it is difficult to find food during this time. When they are in their hibernation state they do not have to eat, drink or defecate. This allows bears to conserve their energy and use the fat that they built up during hyperphagia to survive through winter.
Bears are still sometimes active during winter but usually for a short time to find some food that has been killed nearby. Always be aware that even in the winter bears can be near.
If you would like to learn about what bears eat during each season click here.