Fall Foods of Black Bears in Arkansas

Stomach contents of 59 black bears (Ursus americanus) killed by hunters in Arkansas from 1981 to 1986 were examined. Acorns (Quercus spp.) comprised 34.1% of the total volume examined and occurred in 66.1% of the stomachs. Fruits of pokeweed (Phytolacca americana), hickory (Carya spp.), persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), Carolina buckthorn (Rhamnus caroliniana), devil's walkingstick (Aralia spinosa), and wild grapes (Vitis spp.) were commonly consumed by bears. Acorn and hickory nut consumption positively correlated with mast survey data collected in Arkansas from 1982 through 1986. The high volume and frequency of occurrence of pokeweed fruits suggest that clearcuts are used by bears in the Ozark and Ouachita mountains of Arkansas.

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