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Hungry Black Bears

4-25-14 black bear IMG_3624When Black Bears emerge from their dens in the spring, they have lost between 15 and 40 percent of their weight, and food is in short supply. About 85% of a bear’s diet is vegetation, and most trees and shrubs have not leafed out yet. Black Bears often head to wetlands, where grasses and sedges are beginning to sprout. Nutritionally the shoots of these plants provide them with some of the protein they need, but this source of nutrients is short-lived, as the shoots are tender for only a few days before hardening with cellulose. Roots, bulbs, corms and tubers of plants such as Skunk Cabbage and Jack-in-the-Pulpit are sought after, as are the buds of trees, but bears must wait for the bountiful supply of berries and nuts that mature in summer and fall. Those bears living near humans come to rely on foods inadvertently provided by these humans, such as highly nutritional sunflower seeds being fed to birds. One can hardly blame bears for taking advantage of this available source of food during this challenging time. Feeders and cans containing seed should be put in a bear-proof location if you don’t want to encourage “nuisance” bears which, unfortunately, are sometimes killed just for trying not to starve to death.

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9 responses

  1. :(

    April 25, 2014 at 12:13 pm

  2. Thanks for reminding people about this, Mary. It’s such an important issue! Will share on my FB page.

    April 25, 2014 at 12:30 pm

  3. Claudia Wulff

    Black Bear tought me a lesson 20 years ago, my first winter in VT. Before I left my camp in December I moved the metal barrel with sunflower seeds onto the screened in porch, strapping the lid with bungee cords securely onto the barrel. When I returned in April I found the screens ripped to shreds, the barrel overturned, bungee cords torn to pieces and sunflower seed shells all over the place. It looked like a wild party had taken place with bear, squirrels, mice etc. as guests. A couple of my neigbors had their outdoor grills taken apart by bear. Ever since then I leave the door to my screened in porch propped open, and make sure that there is no food around anywhere.

    April 25, 2014 at 1:29 pm

  4. Amy Quinn

    Here in Ontario, Canada our government unfortunately has brought in the spring black bear hunt. This will make orphans of cubs and create all kinds of problems in ways that seem to be cruel to me and others

    April 26, 2014 at 11:37 am

    • Hi Amy,
      I agree with you wholeheartedly.

      April 26, 2014 at 12:01 pm

  5. It is a sad story oft repeated: in the battle between human and animals, the animals nearly always lose. Education and awareness helps people modify their behavior to prevent bear deaths – “a fed bear is a dead bear” is the refrain we hear a lot around here.

    April 26, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    • I just found your blog, Eliza. It’s wonderful! Think we’re kindred spirits!

      April 26, 2014 at 9:56 pm

      • So glad you think so! Love of nature is a splendid thing. :-)

        April 26, 2014 at 10:03 pm

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