While biologically classified as a true carnivore, black bears are omnivorous, meaning their diet consists of both animal and plant matter. These animals are very opportunistic feeders and this adaptation allows them to thrive in so many varied habitats and climates. In fact, the majority of the natural diet of black bears is actually composed primarily of plant matter.
During the spring and summer months, bears in the Southern Appalachians feed primarily on grasses and fruit, such blackberries, blueberries, and huckleberries. In the fall, a diet of hard mast composed of acorns and beechnuts allow bears to put on extraordinary fat reserves that enable not only survival, but cub production, during the denning season. The remainder of their diet typically consists of insects and any animal material discovered while foraging. Favorite insect items include grubs and underground yellow jacket nests, which bears often dig up to consume this protein-rich food source.