Temporal variation in food habits of the American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) in the boreal forest of northern Ontario
Keywords:American Black Bear, Ursus americanus, Vaccinium angustifolium, Early Lowbush Blueberry, Vaccinium myrtilloides, Velvet-leaved Blueberry, annual variability, boreal forest, diet, feeding ecology, food habits, foraging, scat analysis, Ontario
We used scat analysis to investigate temporal variation in the food habits of American Black Bears (Ursus americanus) in the boreal forest of northern Ontario. Specifically, we examined whether there was a seasonal shift in foraging over three years (1990–1992) and which foods, if any, varied in occurrence among years. American Black Bears ate foods ranging from green vegetation in the spring to ants in mid-summer and berries and nuts in late summer and fall. Late summer berry forage, especially blueberries (Vaccinium spp.), varied greatly among years. American Black Bears in northern Ontario consumed a variety of foods opportunistically. Understanding how American Black Bears in northern Ontario exploit food resources and how these food items vary among years can provide insights into demographic processes and help wildlife managers better anticipate changes in the structure of the harvest of American Black Bears and in human–bear conflict levels. In northern Ontario, forest management practices that increase the availability of early successional species would be beneficial to American Black Bear populations.
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