Are bears omnivores?
The bear diet, as stated above, is a highly debated subject among wildlife biologists.
While some believe bears are pure carnivores, others believe them to be omnivores.
A Bear’s Diet
Bears have an extremely varied diet that changes with the seasons to include whatever food is most readily available, especially when they’re about to hibernate.
In the summer months, bears chow down on plant foods such as grasses, roots, berries, and nuts.
In fact, plant matter makes up a large portion of their diet during spring and summer.
When fruits and nuts aren’t available during the fall, bears will greedily consume whatever meat they can find including carrion.
Bears will eat just about anything, including insects, rodents, and young ungulates.
Bears are smart enough to know where good hunting is.
For example, if a patch of huckleberries ripens first, bears will spend all summer eating huckleberries until they are out of season.
Then, they will move on to the next food source, such as roots or dead animals.
Bears in Human Settings
In some areas where human-bear conflicts are rampant, wildlife management officials have resorted to placing garbage dumps in remote areas away from the bear habitats.
In this way, bears won’t associate humans with a readily available food source and keep them from raiding people’s garbage.
On the other hand, when bears do manage to find human garbage, it’s easy for them to become habituated and lose their natural fear of humans.
This is especially true if the dump happens to be near a town or city.
Then, even if they aren’t getting fed, hungry bears will start hanging around neighborhoods in search of human food.
Bears are usually shy and elusive animals, yet hungry bears will get bolder in their pursuit of a quick meal.
These bears can become dangerous to people who don’t know how to steer clear of them.
If a bear starts rendering your home or neighborhood unsafe, wildlife officials will relocate it to a more isolated area.
Different Species of Bears
While the debate over whether bears are omnivores, carnivores, or opportunistic carnivores rages on, you should be aware that there isn’t just one type of grizzly bear.
There are over 50 subspecies, each with slightly different diets.
For example, the Kodiak bear lives on Kodiak Island in Alaska and feeds largely on salmon.
The Alaskan Kermode bears also live off fish that they catch in rivers or streams.
All black bears eat insects in addition to their other food sources.
Many people are surprised to learn that the grizzly bear once inhabited most of North America during prehistoric times when it was known as the brown or cinnamon bear.
Here’s how they lived back then: Brown bears were nomadic in nature and hunted elk, bison, deer, and wolves.
In fact, brown bears used to be the undisputed kings of North America’s wilderness before humans arrived on this continent.
These days, only about 20,000 grizzly bears remain in the lower 48 states.
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