Bear Feeding and Hibernation

Feeding

During the months of the year that black bears are typically active, they spend a great deal of time feeding, trying to pack on pounds for the winter months.  Feeding patterns are generally similar to that of any crepuscular animal in that they feed more during the hours of low light.  This can change with the amount of food that is readily available.  For instance, if food is scarce bears may be more likely to roam through the woods at any hour in an effort to collect more calories.  Black bears have been known to migrate great distances in search of food, then returning to their den location for hibernation.

Just like whitetails, the older a bear gets, the less likely he is to be seen during daylight hours unless some sort of extreme conditions force him to do so.  The first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset are a hunter's best bet at harvesting a feeding bear.


Hibernation

Bears are synonymous with the word, hibernation, most kids learned that at an early age from Yogi.  The majority of all black bears hibernate through the winter, the length of time in which they hibernate has a great deal to do with their geographic location.  For instance, bears in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana may not hibernate at all because the weather conditions never get cold enough for them to do so.  At the same time, bears in the mountains of Idaho start denning in October and come out in March or April.  If food sources are scarce, bears have a tendency to enter their dens earlier than years of plentiful food.

During hibernation in the winter months the bear's breathing and heart rate will slow and body temperature decreases reducing their caloric needs.  Bears store fats throughout the summer and early fall which supplies their body with nutrients during months of hibernation.  Some bears will lose as much as 40% of their pre-denning weight during hibernation.

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