Learn about living with bears; creating bear smart communities; recreating in bear country; bear safety at work; and managing bears (for wildlife officials).

Bearsmart Blog

Surviving Without Food

With fall officially upon us the bruin world is starting to prepare for their long slumber ahead. At this time of year, bears are feeding up to 20 hours a day to stock up on their own fat reserves.

In order to survive without eating, bears must slow down their physiological systems and live off their fat reserves. They actually enter a state of dormancy where:

  • their heart rate drops from 40-70 beats per minute to 8-12 beats per minute;
  • their metabolism slows down by half and
  • their body temperatures by drop by 3-7 degrees Celsius.

While bears do not ear or drink during this time, they do not urinate or defecate either. Such a build-up of urea would cause humans to die. Bears however, have a unique ability to recycle the build-up or urea, using its constituents to manufacture new proteins. During hibernation, the bear’s body essentially enters a mode of conservation, efficiency and recycling.