Diet of the Black Bear in the Great Smoky Mountains

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The American Black Bear Diet

Bears are voracious eaters, as they need to be fat in order to live and stay warm during winter’s hibernation. The black bears in the Great Smoky Mountains are omnivores and eat just about anything. Seventy-five to eighty five percent of their diet is made up of vegetation. Among the black bear’s menu items are berries, mast, such asblack bear eating berries nuts and acorns, honey, fish, herbs, tubers, roots, ants, insects, berries, and plants as well as small animals such as squirrels, marmots, and chipmunks, salamanders, and fawns. Smoky Mountain black bear also prey upon deer and may soon get the chance at elk reintroduced in the park in 2001. Black bears residing outside GSMMP and into the upper most reaches of North America also prey upon salmon and moose. Don’t get the wrong idea about bears as predators though, most of their protein comes from eating insects.

Food resources within the park include such things as nut and oak trees, berry bushes and fishing sites along the banks streams. Eating from such resources insures the bear of a long life. Outside the park bears eat the same things and live a long life if they remain wild and away from civilization. But, if the black bears succumb to the tempting smells of foods prepared by humans their life span shortens considerably. Poachers, hunters, cars and toxins take their toll on the city bears life cutting it in half. Sometimes bears die from choking on garbage as black bear in trash canwell as from digestive track blockages.

Generally speaking bears are lured away from the wild by the tempting and easy meals found in dumpsters and trashcans.

Here the bear’s marauding ways are often a genuine thrill to tourists lucky enough to see a bear. Bear charm however is diminished considerably to many a chagrinned property owner whose property happens to coincide with a habituated bear’s territory. It seems every year there are new trashcan requirements to foil the all too clever bears.


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