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Dietary Habits of the Grizzly Bear

2 min read
Dietary Habits of the Grizzly Bear

Contrary to popular belief, Grizzly Bears are not predominantly carnivores. They are essentially omnivores, eating plants and berries as well as fish and other animals. Read on for more information about the diet of Grizzly Bears.

Food for Thought

Grizzly Bears have adapted well to their environment, but because of their great size they spend much of their time looking for food. They roam a host of habitats throughout the seasons, searching for sustenance to keep them going. Plants actually make up the best part of their diet, and although vegetation doesn’t provide the same calories as meat, it is a much more reliable food source.

Fish and meat, however, are the most nutritious source of food for Grizzly Bears, providing the much needed fat and protein. In some inland habitats, they rely on carrion for their meat sources, but in others they have become quite proficient in hunting Elk, Moose, Deer and Caribou. In coastal regions where salmon, suckers and other fish spawn, these serve as an alternative food source.

Seasonal Variations in Diet

When the bears wake from their hibernation and venture out into the spring sunshine, food is often in short supply. They are naturally hungry at this time but the trees are still bare from the winter, and at higher altitudes the grass has not yet started to grow. At this time they have to forage on the sunny south facing slopes or search for carrion that has been killed over winter. They tend to lose weight in spring and continue to do so until June.

Once the days start to lengthen, the snow melts and the greenery flourishes. Grizzlies look for areas of lush vegetation along riverbanks, in wetland areas, forests and in parks. During summer they dig for ants and beetle larvae, and once the berries begin to ripen in late July they become the high-energy food of choice – and the animals will even head to urban areas to feast on fruit trees and berry bushes.

Autumn is a time when the bears must consume as much as possible, in order to pack on as much body fat possible to store energy for their hibernation. As winter arrives, food sources diminish and they must concentrate their efforts on the roots and greenery that they find around water, as the plants here are the last to die off. They will also wander for many miles in search of carrion, as well.

November and December sees the Grizzly Bears head to their winter dens. In lower latitudes where food is abundant, they don’t need to hibernate, but those that do retire for the winter eat nothing until they emerge again in spring.

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