Friday, September 16, 2011

Fall Foraging for Winter Survival

Fall black bear (c) John Ashley
They've been waiting all summer for this. It's fall in the higher elevations, and the wild woodland berry crops are hitting their peak. And that means our black bears are eating berries non-stop, putting on fat and getting ready for winter.

Montana's black bears will den up in a month or two. Until then, they'll feast on berries and consume five times more calories than in summer time, when they ate red ants and green plants. In years with good berry crops, bears will add up to five inches of fat to will help them through hibernation. In years of poor berry crops, bears will search for any kind of alternative food to survive. And this is when our human carelessness (with trash, bird feeders and dog food) creates death traps for desperate black bears. Keep your home in order, and our native black bears will do the same.