Black bears require forests for protection and food. They are amazingly adaptable to human presence, and are able to survive in close proximity to housing developments and suburban areas wherever cover to escape cover exists.

Bears are opportunists, and feed on a wide range of vegetation and animal matter.

They eat a variety of plant matter throughout the growing season, including early greening grasses, clover, and the buds of hardwood trees in the spring, fruits and berries in summer, and beechnuts, acorns, and hazelnuts in the fall.

This diet is supplemented with insects, including ants and bees (their larvae, adults, and honey), and occasional mammals and birds.

Bears are not considered efficient predators, but they are known to prey on young deer and moose in late spring, and will consume carrion.

Bears are intelligent, and adapt rapidly to new food sources, including agricultural crops and food placed to attract other wildlife, such as bird feeders, and untended garbage. Therefore, they occasionally cause problems for farmers, beekeepers and orchardists, and rural residents in the State.

by Craig McLaughlin, Ph.D.
Wildlife Biologist
Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

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