Bears must eat constantly during spring, summer, and fall and they'll eat an amazing variety of food. Although they are often portrayed as ferocious carnivores, bears are omnivores which means they eat both meat and plants. Black bears can digest plant fibers better than other meat-eaters, but they don't possess the efficient multi-chambered stomachs of elk and other herbivores. For this reason, they must eat a lot of plants to obtain enough nutrition. In spring, bears search for newly emerged grasses and forbs (broadleaved plants) in the early morning and late afternoon. To conserve energy, they rest a lot. Their rate of feeding increases as food quality increases. In summer they will eat throughout the day as they search for nutritious food such as berries. By eating the most when the best quality food is available, bears quickly fatten up for their coming hibernation. When a black bear finds a patch of berries, it will spend hours delicately plucking the berries from the bush. It doesn't have dexterous fingers as humans have to pluck fruit. Instead, it uses its flexible lips. A bear's lips can bend and grasp much the way a monkey's prehensile tail can grasp a limb. With these "prehensile" lips, a bear can grasp berries one by one.



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