Black Bear Feeding Signs

Ursus americanus

Black bears have numerous feeding signs. These are just a few of them.
Stump torn open by black bear. Photo
                      copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Black bear feeding signs. This stump was torn into by a hungry bear seeking grubs or other tasty edibles. In my area, carpenter ants are commonly found in old logs and stumps like this one. Black bears love to eat ants!

Log torn open by black bear. Photo copyright
                      Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A log torn into by a hungry bear in late fall. Bears are trying to put on as much weight as they can during this time of year, so all food sources are used. Lack of food in winter months is one of the reasons bears have such a long dormant period.

Stump torn open by black bear. Photo
                      copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
Another stump torn into by a hungry black bear.
yellowjacket nest being rebuilt after bear

Yellowjacket wasp nest on the forest floor that was dug up by a black bear. The wasps have begun to repair and rebuild the nest. The gray material in the hole middle left of the photo is the newly built nest.

wasps rebuilding a nest

Wasps rebuilding an aerial nest that was raided by a black bear. This nest was located in a tree just above the below-ground nest in the photo above.

black bear canine tooth marks in soda can

Bear canine tooth marks in an old (vintage 1980) soda can found next to a bear's marking tree.

bear canine tooth marks in soda can

The lower right tooth was either missing or just didn't leave a mark on this old soda can.

                    bear food evergreen huckleberry

Huckleberries are a late summer black bear food. These berries are plentiful and delicious.

black bear food hazelnut

Hazelnuts grow on trees and are found in forested environments. Black bears love hazelnuts! One of their favorite foods - mine too.

                    bear food apple

Apples are not a natural food found in the bear's environment, but they are abundant due to the many abandoned orchards that can be found in some places. Bears love to feast on apples at the end of summer when they ripen!

black bear food manzanita berry

Manzanita berries on the tree before ripening. This is a favorite black bear food in mid-summer.

black bear food manzanita berries
This is what manzanita berries look like on the tree
manzanita berries in a black bear scat
Close up showing manzanita berries that came from a black bear scat
black bear scat containing manzanita berries
This bear scat shows the manzanita berries that they eat in mid-summer
log opened by bear looking for food
This log was opened by a black bear searching for food.
Apple bitten by a black bear. Photo copyright
                      2009 by Kim A. Cabrera.

This apple was found below a tree where the bear had spent quite a bit of time feeding. Notice that the tooth marks look almost human.

Tree climbed by a black bear. Photo copyright
                      2009 by Kim A. Cabrera.
A black bear climbed this tree, leaving behind some scars from the claw marks.
                      climbed by a black bear. Photo copyright 2009 by
                      Kim A. Cabrera.

This apple tree bears some old scars from black bears climbing it. There are also fresh scratch marks above, where the bark appears to have curled backward.

Bear hair
                      snagged in a broken branch. Photo copyright 2009
                      by Kim A. Cabrera.

I found this black bear hair snagged on a branch that the bear broke while climbing in an apple tree. Red arrow points to the hair.

                      opened by a black bear. Photo copyright 2009 by
                      Kim A. Cabrera.
An old stump that was opened by a bear searching for food.
Stumps opened by a black bear. Photo
                      copyright 2009 by Kim A. Cabrera.

In April one year, I found the tracks of a black bear that swam across the river, then exited onto the bank. I followed the trail of that bear as it led into the woods. Along its trail, I found this location, where it had opened some old logs, looking for food.

Tree climbed by a black bear. Photo copyright
                      2009 by Kim A. Cabrera.

The fresh claw marks on this apple tree trunk are next to some old healed scars from previous visits by a bear.

Branch of apple tree broken by a black bear.
                      Photo copyright 2009 by Kim A. Cabrera.
The weight of a climbing black bear was too much for this apple branch, which broke.
Tree climbed by a black bear. Photo copyright
                      2009 by Kim A. Cabrera.
More fresh bear claw marks in the bark of a tree.
                      raided by a black bear. Photo copyright 2007 by
                      Kim A. Cabrera.

Bears find dumpsters very tempting. This one was not a bear-resistant lid. The plastic was very easy for the bear to pry open. Notice the garbage bag on the ground behind the dumpster, which the bear dragged out.

Jelly jar
                      licked clean by a black bear. Photo copyright 2007
                      by Kim A. Cabrera.

This plastic jelly jar was licked clean by a black bear, who removed it from the dumpster in the photo above it.

Black bear
                      and cubs. Photo copyright 2009 by Kim A. Cabrera.

A pair of black bear cubs, and their mother, whose photos were taken by a remote camera.

                    opened this log

A black bear opened this log to find some grubs to eat. Many species of invertebrates deposit eggs in old rotting logs. That makes logs a big part of a bear's search for food. A bear can open a log and find ants, or other tasty invertebrates or their pupae.

where the bear opened the logs

This photo shows the journey a bear made through a clearing in the forest. At the first arrow (top), it ripped open an old fir log and tore off bark. The second two arrows show where old rotten branches were opened in the search for food. The arrow in the front shows a larger log that was also opened in the quest for something to eat.

bear sign in forest

Can you see where the bear walked here? This sign was located between two of the logs in the photo above. The bear trampled plenty of vegetation as it wandered around the clearing, which makes it fun to track bears in the spring.

a log the bear opened
Close up view of one of the logs the bear opened.
bark peeled by bear

Notice how the bark was torn off this log. It is resting on top of green vegetation. As the bark lays there, the vegetation under it won't get any sunlight and will eventually turn yellow, then die back. This offers a way for trackers to age this kind of sign.

bear claw marks on dumpster

The bear decided to try to open this dumpster to get at the garbage inside. The claw marks and smudges on the lid were left by the bear's activities. A plastic lid is not bear-proof, and the bear was able to get inside and drag out some garbage. See photo above too.

bear sign on dumpster
Another view of the smudges and claw marks left by the dumpster-raiding bear.
size of bear claw marks on dumpster lid

The width of the claw marks left by the bear on the dumpster lid. I scared this bear off the next night by blowing a boat horn when it was getting into the dumpster. That bear jumped! Then it ran off. It has not been back to the dumpsters since then. It is good to re-educate bears about garbage before they learn too much and become problems. It's not the bear's fault. We humans need to learn to keep garbage out of the way of animals and stored so that they cannot get to it. It's not good for their health to eat this stuff!

logs opened by bears

Proper bear food is found in logs, underground bee nests, on berry vines, and other natural places. Not in garbage cans!

log opened by bear

Bears learn how to open logs as cubs, when their play often mimics behaviors that will help them survive as adults.

                    claw damage to apple tree

A black bear climbed this young apple tree. It was the first year that this tree bore fruit. The bear broke off branches as it climbed to try to reach the fruit. The tree may or may not recover from the damage and produce fruit again. Apple trees in bear country should be fenced to keep the bears out. However, this apple tree was growing in the wild, likely from a seed transported there in a bird scat.

                    photo from trail camera
Black bear walking in the forest. Photo from my trail camera.
                    photo from trail camera
Black bear walking in the forest. Photo from my trail camera.
Other Bear Pages on this site:
Go to the Black Bear Scat Page
or Black Bear Scat Page II
Go to the Black Bear Main Page
or Black Bear Tracks and Signs Page II

Black Bear Dens and Beds
Black Bear Marking Trees
Black Bear Trails and Stomp Marking
Black Bear Tracking Videos
More Bear Tracking Videos
Black Bear Cub Tracks
Learn even more about black bears:
Not hosted on this site, but great black bear page
from the North American Bear Center:
Lily the Black Bear
Jewel the Black Bear
Opens in a new window. Follow along as Lily and Jewel raise cubs!
These web cams provide a look inside a wild bear's den, LIVE!
Watch cubs being raised and cared for in real time and learn more
about bears than ever possible before.
Rare glimpses into the lives of wild black bears.


To see black bears in action, doing bear things, visit my YouTube channel:

The videos on my YouTube channel come from trail cameras I have set up in the woods to show black bears in their natural habitat, doing what they do when no one is watching. Enjoy!

prints prints

Got a bear story? E-mail me and tell me about it.

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Copyright 1997, 2010, 2018. Text, photos, and drawings by Kim A. Cabrera - Desert Moon Design

Page updated: March 18, 2018

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