Bare berry bushes for bears

Bears depend on berries to build up their winter reserves.

  • Aug. 28, 2012 9:00 a.m.

Berry abundance can bring bears closer to home.

Sadie Parr

Golden Bear Aware Community Co-ordinator

This time of year, bears are beginning to put some weight back on now that the berry crops are ripe!  Bears are searching for high caloric foods, requiring up to 20,000 calories each day in late summer and fall.

An active human teenager only needs 3,000 calories compared to a more sedentary adult, who needs about 2,000 calories each day.  A golden retriever requires about 1,400 calories each day.

Berries are a vital source of nutrition for bears.  Bears increase their rate of feeding as natural foods become more available to them and the quality of food increases.   Bears are not fussy but will choose the highest calorie foods in order to maximize their reward.  This time of year, bears are aiming to increase their body weight to fuel their long winter sleep.

Bears depend on berries to build up their winter reserves.  If they have not gained enough weight in the late summer and fall months, their chances of surviving winter and producing young are greatly reduced.

Bears will lose up to 30 per cent of their body weight during hibernation, and lactating females will often continue to lose weight in early spring when food is scarce, sometimes for an entire year.  When the summer berry season arrives, bears finally begin putting weight back on.

Black bears will spend hours in the same berry patch, or lying on their bellies delicately plucking berries with their flexible lips.

The lips of a bear are similar to the prehensile tail of a monkey, allowing them to grasp berries one at a time.

Bears are often intent of feeding when they have discovered an abundance of berries and are less likely to be paying attention to much else, therefore stay alert, make noise, and carry bear spray.

Unpublished records from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources show a correlation between failures of berry crops and marked increases in bear damage to farm crops, beehives, and livestock, with a corresponding increase in the number of bears killed for such activities.  Competition for food increases among bears as the supply becomes limited.

There are a variety of methods used by people to reduce human-bear conflicts regarding berry abundance.

One option is to monitor the production of berries in local areas, making it easier to predict the occurrence of bears taking greater risks in human settlements as they attempt to fulfil their biological drive for calories.

Bear Aware has developed a public survey that can help monitor and predict such trends.  To participate, contact to request a copy of the 2012 Berry Survey.

Call 1-877-952-7277 to report a bear sighting in a residential area, property damage or wildlife conflict.  To learn more about managing attractants, visit or contact Sadie Parr : email, phone 250-290-1222.


Just Posted

Freezing rain warning in effect for B.C. Southern Interior

Environment Canada issued the freezing rain warning for most of the Southern Interior Tuesday morning

Smiles all around as province announces emergency ward funding

$2.1 million to go to much-needed upgrades

As avalanche danger grows, BC heli-skiers exercise caution

Company relies on guides’ decades of experience

Heli-skiing operation “very concerned” by new caribou protection regs

Habitat protection is important, but ‘at what cost?’, asks Nakusp tourism operator.

Local artist brings his work to Art Gallery of Golden

A new art exhibit is coming to the Art Gallery of Golden and this one has a gentle PG advisory.

B.C. boy denied $19,000-per-month drug to ease ‘crippling pain’ for 3rd time

Sooke mom Jillian Lanthier says son Landen Alexa has been forgotten about by Premier John Horgan

‘I shouldn’t have to have a husband:’ Winnipeg woman criticizes men-only club

Jodi Moskal discovered the Winnipeg Squash Racquet Club continues to ban women as members, as it has done since opening in 1909.

Japan public TV sends mistaken North Korean missile alert

The false alarm came two days after Hawaii’s emergency management department sent a mistaken warning

Toronto girl dies after being pinned between vehicles while picked up from school

Police say an SUV with no driver in it rolled forward and pinned the girl against her father’s car

Senior randomly stabbed in B.C. mall food court

Woman arrested after victim, 71, suffers serious injuries

B.C. Liberal hopefuls begin final leadership push

Five MLAs, one outsider pitch policies to party members

Vancouver Island marijuana producer bought by Aphria in $230M deal

Aphria’s annual production forecast increases to 230,000 kgs

UPDATED: ‘Young, innocent’ teen hit during Vancouver shootout dies

15-year-old Coquitlam boy was in a car driving by the scene

Ontario man charged with selling Canadian’s usernames and passwords

Ontario man ran site that peddled billions of pieces of personal data: RCMP

Most Read