Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Grizzly Bears Feast On Diverse Diet

Date:
February 19, 2007
Source:
University of Alberta
Summary:
There's no such thing as picky grizzly bears -- they'll eat almost anything they can find. A new University of Alberta study that tracked food habits of the Alberta grizzly bear living in the foothills sheds some light on the animal's varied diet and their activity pattern.

Grizzly bear and cub feed on a dandelion. (Credit: University of Alberta)
Credit: University of Alberta

There's no such thing as picky grizzly bears--they'll eat almost anything they can find. A new University of Alberta study that tracked food habits of the Alberta grizzly bear living in the foothills sheds some light on the animal's varied diet and their activity pattern.

"Alberta bears have remarkably diverse diets," said Dr. Mark Boyce, biological sciences professor at the U of A and co-author on the study. "They'll eat just about anything."

Ants, fruits, moose and plants are a few staples of the Alberta grizzly bear's diet. This new research study was the most comprehensive examination of grizzly bear foods ever conducted in Canada. Using global positioning system (GPS) radiotelemetry technology and analyzing 665 feces collected from 18 grizzly bears over a period of three years, the scientists found that the bears packed a lot of activity into 24 hours. The research was recently published in the "Journal of Mammalogy."

Much is known about what bears in mountainous areas eat but little is known of the diets of grizzly bears living in boreal forests also used by humans. As well, this new research looked at five different activities the bears use to find food--whether it feeds on flowers, insects, fruits, digs for plants or kills other animals, specifically ungulates.

The diverse diets of the Alberta grizzly bear helps cushion them against climate change and other vagaries of the environment, said Boyce. Specifically, the research team found that the bears living in the foothills are effective predators on moose and deer. They are especially good at killing moose calves during the difficult spring period when other foods like berries are not yet available, said Boyce. Mountain bears are largely vegetarian, by comparison.

The scientists identified 40 different food items, examining each for seasonal patterns of use and differences among mountain and foothills environments. Digging the root of sweet vetch plants dominated early spring diets, while preying on ungulates--or hooved animals--was greatest during late spring, although the timing varied between foothill and mountain bears. Moose were the most common ungulate eaten by the bear (83 per cent), especially newborns (54 per cent), with white-tailed and mule deer (16 per cent) and elk (1 per cent) more minor in comparison. Rodents, insects (primarily ants), and birds were also consumed. Green vegetation dominated early summer diets and as fruit ripened in early August, berries such as soopolallie and mountain huckleberry were added to the bears' menu. The scientists also learned that most of the activity of the east slopes bears takes place in the daytime, especially morning and the evening. This is in contrast to bears living in spots where more frequent contact with humans take place, such as Banff National Park where most bear activity has become nocturnal.

Although the bears are filling up on these different food sources, being so near to highways and roads is dangerous for the animals.

"Bears are eating substantial amounts of clover and alfalfa, which are common roadside plantings," said Boyce. "Because these roadside plantings are attractive to bears, this can put the bears at risk of contact with humans. Nearly all new roads being constructed in the province are built by industry, either for timber harvest or oil and gas development.

"We should encourage industry to avoid using such attractive food items when planting in ditches and roadsides. It would be much better to use native grasses and other native plants to stabilize road banks and ditches. Most bear deaths occur near roads and we want to avoid attracting bears to areas near roads."

The other co-authors on this paper are Robin Munro, a former U of A Research Associate, Dr. Scott Nielsen, a post-doctoral fellow at the U of A, M.H. Price from the University of Victoria, and Gordon Stenhouse, from the Foothills Model Forest.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alberta. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Alberta. "Grizzly Bears Feast On Diverse Diet." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 February 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070215083202.htm>.
University of Alberta. (2007, February 19). Grizzly Bears Feast On Diverse Diet. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070215083202.htm
University of Alberta. "Grizzly Bears Feast On Diverse Diet." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070215083202.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins