It’s hyperphagia time for bears

Bears now seeking extra calories to fatten up for hibernation-

In case folks have forgotten, though few who read The Wildlife News are in that category, autumn is the time for what might look like gluttonous behavior in bears. In order to survive hibernation, bears needs thousands of what would normally be excess calories to put on fat.

It is rare for a bear to pass up an obvious meal at any time, but now they are driven to find food. This makes them more dangerous if they have secured a carcass or found a berry patch. They have more incentive to defend it with vigor. They are also more likely to take risks for food. This includes food that is enclosed or on or around people or their habitations.

The latest Missoulian newspaper describes current grizzly bear events in northwest Montana— Grizzly bears abundant in northwest Montana, on hunt for fat.  It is important to notice that the grizzly bear food seeking incidents described in the story are hardly stunning — eating apples in an orchard, killing a few chickens, “breaking into” a chicken coop, digging up a buried horse, and breaking into a vehicle as well as peeking in windows. The latter bear was killed for doing this.

With a few exceptions, it is hard to say where you will find hungry bears during this period. For example, berries can be abundant to completely absent. Two years ago I spent a September week in the Island Park/West Slope of the Tetons area. There were many bears. In four days this September, I saw no berries (drought) and no bear sign of any kind.



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  1. Larry K Avatar
    Larry K

    How was the moth crop this year on the talus slopes?

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      Larry K,

      That is hard to find information.

    2. Immer Treue Avatar
      Immer Treue

      Is Dr Steven French still watching bears up there? He’d probably have a pretty good idea.

      1. SAP Avatar

        Not sure where Steve French is these days. He & Marilyn are good people. Like many in the wild world of grizzlies, they weren’t always treated well by the Pharisees.

        Spoke with a friend from Cody today. He gets around, sees a lot of backcountry. Seems that some moth sites in southern Absaroka were on, but a lot reliable ones around the North Fork were not. Could’ve been combo of late-building snowpack and rainy summer that kept the moths away.

  2. Larry K Avatar
    Larry K

    It strikes me that with the climate changes year after year species are hit in the pocket book on various fronts that we don’t usually think of with regard to the little niches that make up their yearly survival. The drought is a big overall problem but just setting up a million water troughs won’t fix the rest of the ecosystem’s small components that are a really big bridge that serves spp for survival maybe for only a week or two throughout the year. Like losing a step or two on the ladder and then one day you can’t reach the next step.

  3. Patricia Randolph Avatar

    Please sign our petition against killing 4,750 black bears annually in Wisconsin ( going on right now ):

    There is no gluttonous time for bears in Wisconsin. They are run by unlimited packs of dogs and men from July 1 through the five weeks of mass murder Sept. 9 – October 13 ( right now ). 4,750 black bears, mostly cubs, are being killed – one every 6 minutes, over dogs and millions of pounds of cookie dough, donuts, bread and garbage bait piles set since April for bear viewing to pick out that favorite head on wall. Bears are barely born before they are being harassed across our public lands – and 70 % of the male bears killed in 2014 and 49% of the females were either 8 months old or a year and 8 months old when they were shot out of trees and/ or torn apart on the ground by packs of dogs as reward for chasing them.

    More bears are killed in Wisconsin than in any state in the country – probably in the world. 26,500 black bears have been killed the past 6 years since the DNR started a new counting system paid for by the bear hounders association. Hounders, trappers and bear killers rule in Wisconsin. This state is attracting the most cruel of the most sick – 109,000 men and women pay $4.50 to get into the bear lottery for a chance to kill – the $49 to kill a bear – and bargain $7 to kill a bear if you are a kid 10 or 11 years old. Meanwhile all hounders can continue to chase the bears whether they have a kill license or not – through the five weeks of killing fun.

    1. rork Avatar

      It might help to focus more, like just on hounding. You’d get more support then, some of it from hunters even (like me).

      Criticism from me includes making it sound like all bear hunting is with dogs, implying bear hunting is unsustainable (at the link), making it sound like it’s legal to kill mothers with cubs, counting the 1.5-year-olds in with the .5-year-olds, and mentioning trapping (not legal for bear). Honesty wasn’t highly regarded.

      1. Professor Sweat Avatar
        Professor Sweat

        “Then the “hunters” who have followed the radio-collared dogs in their trucks, will “let the dogs have some fun” with the dying or wounded bear, attacking the bear, and then take home a baby bear rug for their man cave to their “glory”.”

        1. Professor Sweat Avatar
          Professor Sweat

          I believe that the term “hunter” should be removed from petitions like this. Most hunters don’t consider hounding and baiting to be hunting, and calling it such, even in quotation marks, can turn those who do hunt against a petition or issue like this that they may agree on.

          1. Professor Sweat Avatar
            Professor Sweat

            Regardless of the problems with the summary of the petition, I still signed it. I’m not against sustainable black bear hunting (although I would never do it), baiting and hounding needs to go the way of Scott Walker from the presidential race.

    2. Professor Sweat Avatar
      Professor Sweat

      Some good background on hounding in WI. About 15 minutes in, a vet speaks in graphic detail about the physical damage bears can inflict on the hounds. Also, a video of hounds killing a coyote at the end. Hard to watch.


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Ralph Maughan