Foraging and Foods

Vegetation – the Dietary Mainstay

Green vegetation and flower parts are important foods in northeastern Minnesota from spring to fall. In April, flower parts of aspen, willow, maple, ash, and hazel are the main foods….

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Berries – a Critical Food

Berries are important foods throughout the black bear range. The most commonly eaten berries in northeastern Minnesota are sarsaparilla berries, juneberries, cherries, dogwood berries, blueberries, and raspberries. Many other berries…

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Cub Feeding on Juneberries

Ant Brood – an Important Food

Ant specialists refer to ant larvae and pupae as “brood.”  These digestible clumps of fat and protein are the main source of animal protein for black bears over much of…

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Hazelnuts – a Favorite Food

Hazelnuts are one of the most important and preferred bear foods in northeastern Minnesota. Across North America, availability of hard mast (nuts and acorns) is a major predictor of bear growth…

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Animal Protein

Insects and animal matter are less than 10% of the annual black bear diet around Ely and across most of North America. Across America, exceptions occur along the Pacific coast…

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Forest Tent Caterpillars

In outbreak years, caterpillars usually hatch in May, defoliate huge areas, and pupate 5-6 weeks later in June or early July.  As the caterpillars grow, they increase their percent fat…

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What Do Bears Like to Eat in a Beehive?

Although bears prefer immature bees, they also will eat honey, depending upon the alternatives. Honey is mostly sugar with an average composition of 38.5 percent fructose 31.0 percent glucose 17.1…

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Effects of Food on Survival

Effects of food on cub growth and survival Starvation is the main cause of death for black bear cubs around Ely. By fall, cubs can weigh 15 to 165 pounds,…

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Adaptations for Obtaining Food

A keen sense of smell Strong curved claws for climbing trees and ripping logs Strength for turning over rocks and logs to get colonial insects and strength for bending branches…

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Predation:  The stocky body that gives black bears strength and minimizes heat loss makes them a poor predator.  The stocky, insulated body makes them overheat during chases and gives them…

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Learning Which Stem to Pull Down

After pulling down the wrong stem, this 6-month-old cub looks at the juneberries that are still out of reach.  As she grows up, she will learn how to determine which…

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Scat Analysis Versus Walking With Bears

Scat Analysis For decades, Bear Center researchers analyzed thousands of bear scats to learn diet and how it varies with season and among years.  The scats provided basic information, but…

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