During fall, in preparation for hibernation, bears eat up to 20,000 calories every day. That’s like eating nine large cheese pizzas, about 35 medium bean and cheese burritos, or 93 Snickers bars every single day! In terms of a bear’s natural diet, that’s equal to over 11 pounds of acorns or around 100 pounds of berries.
Bears looking for food, particularly this time of year, can be attracted to residential areas by many natural food sources (acorns, fruit, wasp nests) and if residents’ food and/or attractants are not properly stored, they’ll take advantage of that, too. Bears exposed to human food, or just used to being in residential areas, can quickly become food conditioned (meaning they’ve learned to associate people or development with food), or habituated (in which they lose their natural fear of people, often getting dangerously close to people or homes). They may even start entering homes for food, which can quickly become dangerous for residents and bears alike. Simple things like keeping windows and doors closed and latched, properly disposing of trash and recycling, not using bird feeders (these also are great bear feeders), and cleaning barbeque grills each time you use it, can do a long way in protecting bears if you live in bear habitat.
In October, one thing many people don’t consider when living in (or visiting) bear habitat, is that pumpkins are not only one of our favorite Halloween decorations, but they are also food. In Yosemite we’ve seen bears eat pumpkins in neighborhoods numerous times, and so we ask that people keep them inside except for during active trick or treating. We also remind residents never to leave candy out on their porches…a treat too tempting for a bear to walk past.