What Do Bears Eat?

Bears eat plants, insects, fish and other animals. Although they're often thought of as carnivores and are even part of the Carnivora order, bears are actually opportunistic omnivores, meaning they subsist on both plant and animal matter. Bears tend to eat primarily plant matter, which can make up as much as 90 percent of their overall diet.

Vegetation and insects are commonly eaten by bears because they can be found in a variety of habitats, but fish and meat are important for protein intake. Bears that don't live near a coast tend to rely on the decaying flesh of dead animals, but many are excellent hunters, preying on deer, moose, caribou and newborn elk. Suckers, salmon and other fish are prominent protein sources for bears that live near bodies of water where fish spawn.

Before and after winter are important feeding times for bears. Before winter, they eat as much as possible to store fat for hibernation during winter. Greenery, roots, gut piles and animals left by hunters are important food sources at the end of fall. When they wake in the spring, they're hungry, and food is difficult to find because plants are just starting to grow. During this time, bears usually scavenge for deer or moose killed during the winter or berries that grow on sunny slopes.