Date of Award
Master of Science
Wildlife and Fisheries Science
Michael R. Pelton
James T. Tanner, Ralph W. Dimmick
This study was conducted on the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and game management areas in North Carolina. Information on seasonal food habits of the black bear (Ursus americanus) was obtained through analyses of scat and stomachs collected during 1969 and 1970.
In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park herbaceous species were the most common food items in the spring. When berries of shrub species matured, bears at large qunatities of Rubus sp., Vaccinium sp., and Gaylussacia sp., A saprophyte, Conopholis americana, was also an important food item during the summer and early fall seasons. Fruits of Prunus serotina, Fagus grandifolia, and Quercus sp. became the dominant foods of bears in the early and late fall seasons.
Although black bears are omnivores, animal foods were not consumed in great quantities. Colonial insects were frequently found but in small amounts. Mammals are even less important and are probably eaten only as carrion.
Scat and stomach samples collected in North Carolina from wildlife management areas (in similar Southern Appalachian terrain) revealed similar results as samples from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Samples of stomach contents collected in North Carolina and scat remains from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park were also similar in food content.
Results of analyses of six cub scat indicate food habits of cubs were similar to older bears.
A direct relationship was found between garbage consumption by bears and increased camping and picnicing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Beeman, Larry Eugene, "Seasonal Food Habits of the Black Bear (Ursus americanus) in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 1971.