U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

March 2001


Published in WESTERN BLACK BEAR WORKSHOP 7:106-111.


Black bear can inflict severe negative Impacts on timber stands in the northwestern United States. A supplemental feeding program to provide bears an alternative food source during spring is practiced in the state of Washington, and to a lesser extent in other states. We initiated concurrent studies to assess characteristics of bear that forage at feeding stations, the interactions of bears around feeders, and impacts of the program on bear territories. Numerous bears fed at stations, including females with and without cubs, yearlings, and males. Bear feeding bouts at stations were generally short, less than 15 minutes. Bears generally fed alone, although we observed 2 to 3 adult bears at a feeder simultaneously and feeding partners were not consistent. There was little antagonistic behavior observed around the feeders, and no evidence that this behavior inhibited foraging opportunities for long. On the rare occasion a bear was driven from a feeder it returned later that same day to feed. Bear territories that included feeding stations were similar in size to territories of bears without access to feeders. However, there may be more overlap of territories at feeding sites, and during the spring bears with feeders do not visit some parts of their territory as frequently as those without feeders.