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Discover Nature: Black Bears Gorge to Prepare for Winter

Missouri Department of Conservation
This week in Missouri’s woods, black bears begin to feed heavily in preparation for winter. ";

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


Learn more about how to stay safe in bear country at MissouriConservation.org, and learn more about black bears with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide.


Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation. 

Kyle Felling was born in the rugged northwest Missouri hamlet of St. Joseph (where the Pony Express began and Jesse James ended). Inspired from a young age by the spirit of the early settlers who used St. Joseph as an embarkation point in their journey westward, Kyle developed the heart of an explorer and yearned to leave for adventures of his own. Perhaps as a result of attending John Glenn elementary school, young Kyle dreamed of becoming an astronaut, but was disheartened when someone told him that astronauts had to be good at math. He also considered being a tow truck driver, and like the heroes of his favorite childhood television shows (The A-Team and The Incredible Hulk) he saw himself traveling the country, helping people in trouble and getting into wacky adventures. He still harbors that dream.
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