We used scat analysis to determine diets and relative nutritional values of diets for black bears (Ursus americanus Pallas, 1780) in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, from 2003 to 2006, and compared foods consumed and nutritional components to identify important sources of fecal gross energy (GE), crude fat (CF), and fecal nitrogen (FN) in annual and seasonal diets. Patterns of use of food classes followed typical seasonal patterns for bears, although use of animal matter was among the highest reported (>49% annually). Use of animal matter increased after spring, although crude protein levels in bear diets were always >25%. GE was typically lowest for grasses and other herbaceous plants and highest for ants and ungulates; FN was strongly positively related to most animal sources, but negatively correlated with vegetative matter; and CF showed the strongest positive relationship with ungulates and berries, with the latter likely influenced by the presence of seeds. Compared with historic data (1984-1991), contemporary diets included substantially greater prevalence of anthropogenic foods, which likely contributed to increases in size, condition, and productivity of the contemporary bear population. Management strategies are needed to increase quantity and quality of natural foods while minimizing dependence on anthropogenic sources.
Additional publication details
Foods and nutritional components of diets of black bear in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado