Have you ever heard of the term Hyperphagia? When I looked it up on the internet I found a variety of definitions but it basically refers to excessive eating that is beyond normal, even when one is full. While this could describe me during the Cavity Lake Fire I’m using it today to refer to the eating habits of the Black Bear in late summer and fall.
The Black Bear in our area are beginning to increase their feeding efforts to prepare for their hibernation. They can gain up to 1-2 pounds a day and some will double their body weight during this time of the year. They eat a variety of foods and anything that resembles food. Black Bears are omnivores so their diet consists mainly of plant materials but they will eat meat on occasion. They like grasses, fruits, berries, buds, leaves, nuts, and insects to name a few. They also like any meal that is easy to obtain.
Residents who live where Black Bears are found need to be careful so they do not provide an easy meal for a bear. Home and Cabin owners should take bird feeders down and keep their area free of bear attractants. Garbage is perhaps a bear’s favorite meal so one should be sure to empty garbages on a daily basis, clean garbage cans often and store them inside of a building. Pet food should be kept indoors and grills should be kept clean.
Campers need to make sure their campsite is clean to avoid creating a problem bear. Leftover food and fish remains should be handled properly to keep bears away. Food should be hung high in a tree where a bear would have difficulties reaching it. Sweet smelling lotions or perfumes should not be used and foods that give off a strong odor should be avoided. Bears have a great sense of smell and are able to smell things way off in the distance.
If you should encounter a Black Bear while out camping then make some loud noises with pots and pans, yell at them, and do not back away. This is the most effective way to get rid of a Black Bear. If the Black Bear keeps returning then you may need to change campsites but normally loud noises are enough to scare the Black Bear away. Please do not try this tactic with other types of bears especially Polar Bears who consider humans appetizers. We like to call the Black Bear a big raccoon because it is more of a pest than a threat; Black Bear attacks are extremely rare.
I always enjoy seeing a Black Bear when I’m out in the woods. I don’t like to see them in my yard or in my pick up truck because then I know they will most likely be back. They have a good memory and will often return daily as well as year after year. We haven’t heard of any nuisance bears at campsites in the Boundary Waters or Quetico Park this year and with all of the natural food sources available I don’t expect there to be a bear problem this fall. Just keep in mind the term Hyperphagia and be on the look out for hungry bears!