Food for thought: black bears go into binge

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Saturday, August 27, 2022 – by Gerald D. Hodge, Jr.

The Appalachia Georgia Friends of the Bears remind the publicwhat feverything happened. The leaves have started to turn at higher elevations, children and young adults are heading back to school, and Southeastern Conference football heralds the arrival of fall. For those unfamiliar with the American black bear’s biological clock, late summer and early fall herald a period known as hyperphagia, or overeating. They must eat a lot of food to store fat for the winter.
Bears across North America are now going into binge eating!

Black bears are opportunistic eaters. A 250-pound male black bear needs to eat 3,000 calories a day to maintain his weight, or about 1.5 pounds of acorns a day. In addition to all those calories needed for daily life, they must consume 20,000 calories/day or about 10 pounds of acorns during binge to gain the 3-5 pounds/day needed for hibernation.

Garbage kills bears! Two-thirds of all human-bear conflicts are bears accessing human waste. In addition to the dangers of being around humans, they ingest packaging that damages their teeth by chewing on metal cans, which will cause intestinal damage and lead to a painful death. Human food causes tooth decay, which increases the likelihood of abscesses that will kill them. Natural food does not!

It is more important now to secure the attractants to reduce the possibility of human-bear conflicts. This comes in the form of trash, birdseed, hummingbird feeders, pet food, livestock feed, greasy barbecues, fish smokers and cookers, and other foods for wild animals to which black bears have access. These attractants teach them to approach homes and humans for more food.

Today, there is general agreement that most human-bear conflicts are the result of human behavior. There is no bear “nuisance” or “problem”. Bad human behavior breeds bad bear behavior.

Appalachia Georgia Friends of the Bears is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to reduce human-bear conflict through proactive outreach programs, educating the public about coexistence with black bears, the use of human bear deterrents, and advocacy. Visit them at https://agfriendsofthebears.com or their partners on BearWise.org.

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