Do bears eat grass and insects? How could such a big animal survive on salad and bugs?
The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.John 15:19 NLT
Do Bears Eat Grass?
I slowed my Prius and pulled over when I saw a bear cub peek out of the tree line. Setting the emergency break, I grabbed my camera. I didn’t roll down my window, though, because I hadn’t seen the mama bear. Everyone knows to proceed with caution around cubs—especially if you can’t see the sow. A minute later, the mama ambled out of the forest with two more cubs trailing her.
She chose a sunny spot and lay down, ripping huge mouthfuls of green grass out of the damp ground. I guess that answered my question, Do bears eat grass? Yes, they eat grass, dandelions, berries, and other flowers. I cautiously rolled down my window far enough to get my camera lens out and started snapping pictures.
Mama looked over at me a few times but seemed unconcerned. My presence didn’t bother her, but I’d seen photos of what a bear did to a Prius left in a parking lot in Arizona at a popular birding site.
The caved-in roof, broken windows, and ripped-off rearview mirrors attested to bears having great noses. The hapless owners had ignored the signs warning visitors never to leave food in their cars. But since I’d encountered these bears along a lonely stretch of the Cassiar Highway in British Columbia, I hoped they had never tasted picnic lunches before.
Do Bear Eat Cars?!
The cubs, while not tiny, still needed their mother. I snapped photos and even stuck my phone out the passenger side window to take some video. The mama ignored me as she enjoyed her greens.
When she stood up and started walking towards me, her darling cubs followed. I rolled the window halfway up to keep the smells from my picnic basket inside. Hopefully. Instead of walking past me, Mama turned straight towards my passenger window. I quickly rolled the window up the rest of the way and held my breath.
She sniffed once and then walked to the front of the car. One of her babies stood on his hind legs, put his paw on the side of the Prius, and peeked inside.
Then I felt the car move. Oh, no! She’s going to climb on top of my Prius and squash it! I thought. I could see her ears moving at the front of the car, but no giant body lumbering up onto the hood. Again, I felt the gentle movement of my car. She popped her head up, and I could see…insects…around her mouth?
For the next five minutes, mama delicately licked the dragonflies and other bugs from the front of my Prius. Satisfied, she ambled back to the verge and walked down the road.
I sat in my car, stunned. First, I’d watched a bear eat grass; then, she’d cleaned the insects from my grill. As I released the brake and moved back onto the road, I wondered if maybe I imagined the entire episode.
At the next town, I pulled into a gas station to fuel up and check my car for damage. I could see the unmistakable imprint of the cub’s paw on my passenger door. And the front of my car looked licked clean.
Fun Bear Facts
I decided I needed to learn more about black bears and their diet. Do black bears eat grass? Yes. As omnivores, they will eat just about anything—plants, insects, eggs, birds, carcasses, or other animals. And yes, people food. But people food will ruin a bear’s chances of survival. Habituation to human food causes them to turn to Dumpster diving and trashcan throwing.
All too often, such behavior escalates, and authorities will trap and try to relocate the bear. But it doesn’t always work. ‘A fed bear is a dead bear,’ according to the National Park Service signs I’ve seen in Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.
Mother bears give birth during hibernation to one to five cubs. They have three cubs on average. Bears are the only mammal to lactate (produce milk) when they aren’t eating. They can feed their young for up to three months during hibernation. Bear milk contains 33% milk fat (whale milk weighs in between 35%- 50% milk fat). Cubs stay with their mother for about 18 months.
When I think about bears and what they eat, it reminds me of what I ingest. I have an intellectual omnivore diet. Although I start each day by reading my Bible, I often fill my mind with fluffy entertainment. I want to read and study what will grow me into a more compassionate, loving, and accepting child of God. But I can relate to the bear’s habituation to the intellectual equivalent of fast food.
Father God, help me choose a natural diet that leads me to you. May I never become so habituated to the world that I love it more than I love you and your kingdom.