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Seasonal Foods and Feeding Ecology of Black Bears in the Smoky Mountains

Larry E. Beeman and Michael R. Pelton
Bears: Their Biology and Management
Vol. 4, A Selection of Papers from the Fourth International Conference on Bear Research and Management, Kalispell, Montana, USA, February 1977 (1980), pp. 141-147
DOI: 10.2307/3872858
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3872858
Page Count: 7
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Seasonal Foods and Feeding Ecology of Black Bears in the Smoky Mountains
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Abstract

Between June 1969 and January 1972, 75 stomachs and 1,025 scats from black bears (Ursus americanus) were collected from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and vicinity for food content analysis. Grasses and the other herbaceous leaves and stems, squawroot (Conopholis americana), huckleberries (Gaylussacia spp.), black cherry (Prunus serotina), acorns from oaks (Quercus spp.), blackberries (Rubus spp.), and blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) composed 81 percent of the diet by volume. Eleven percent of the food consumed was animal matter, principally Coleoptera and Hymenoptera. Artificial food constituted 6 percent of the diet. The most critical season with regard to food availability appears to be late fall because mast (nuts) is the only preferred natural food source available and mast failures occur frequently. There is additional evidence that nutrition, productivity, movement, and bear/person incidents are also influenced by feeding ecology of the species.

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