Discover Nature this week as the American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) prepares for winter.
As the weather cools off and we head into autumn, black bears enter a phase called hyperphagia, in which they eat heavily, accumulating a layer of body fat that results in a 30-percent weight-gain. This layer of fat will provide nourishment and insulation during winter, when bears enter a deep sleep-like state called torpor, usually lasting until April.
In preparation for this period of inactivity, bears eat a wide variety of food including grasses and forbs, berries, insects, fish, frogs, and carrion. Missouri’s fall acorn crop also provides an important food source.
Bears can be attracted to human foods and may visit campsites, garbage disposal locations and bird feeders.
As leaves begin to change and cooler temperatures return, Missouri’s woods can be a great place to discover nature, but remember to be bear aware.
Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.