Yes, bears do eat raccoons. While they aren’t eaten regularly by bears, Raccoons have been known to fall foul of Bear attacks. In recent years, the number of Bear related Raccoon deaths has increased significantly.
This may be in part caused by factors including environmental change and habitat loss which is pushing bears and raccoons to fight over the same food sources. Theoretically, Raccoons and Bears could peacefully coexist under the right circumstances. If their habitats allow, omnivorous Bears would much rather eat bugs, fruits, berries, fish or even snakes.
Do Bears Eat Raccoons?
While raccoons are not central to the bear’s diet, they are eaten by bears when the opportunity arises.
Raccoons will mostly be eaten by bears after they are already dead. One of the top sources of meat for bears is carrion meat (recently dead animals). If a bear were to come across a recently dead raccoon, it will certainly consume it.
However, bears are not particularly fast, so would be unable to actually hunt raccoons. They may attack a raccoon if they come too close, such as if they’re scavanging around the same trash cans.
Furthermore, scat analyses show that plants (like milkweed and sunflowers) and berries are the primary food sources for bears. Fish and deer are the most common sources of meat for bears.
Can Bears & Raccoons Peacefully Coexist?
Bears can easily eat raccoons given the right opportunity. But those opportunities seem to be few and far between.
Both Bears and Raccoons are scavengers and compete for the same resources. When these resources become scarce, the likelihood of an interaction or an attack greatly increases.
A hungry Bear is a lot more likely to attack a Raccoon if it is scavenging or feeding in its perceived turf. If food is particularly scarce, Bears will go to great lengths to secure their territorial boundaries.
Raccoons are acutely aware of this fact and likely avoid places where Bears are known to roam.
Raccoons are extremely intelligent creatures who have a tendency to fight back when under attack. Bears are somewhat lazy and generally settle for easy pickings. This doesn’t mean that Bears aren’t ferocious predators, but they’d much prefer a meal that posed fewer challenges.
Do Bears and Raccoons Get Along?
The short answer is no. Bears represent inherent danger for most other animals they share territory with. Raccoons are seen as direct food competitors and Bears would much sooner eat a Raccoon than share with it.
The opportunity for these animals’ paths to cross is quite rare. This is largely because raccoons go out of their way to avoid bears. Raccoons are nocturnal and usually take extreme caution during their feeding sessions. Bears are more brash feeders and are inclined to hunt during dawn and dusk.
If food is abundant, bears are more likely to leave raccoons alone, but if they are hungry, they may fight off raccoons or try to kill them as a food source.
Where Do Bears & Raccoons Find Food?
Bears and raccoons share similar diets. They’re both scavengers who will find food in landfill, eat fish and carrion meat (recently dead animals), and consume berries and nuts.
The rise in population density of Raccoons in recent years has seen the not so humble creatures become a lot more tactile. Raccoons use their budding resourcefulness to their advantage and move in vast swathes to take over food-rich territories. They’ll happily roam through neighbourhoods and scavenge through whatever they deem to be edible.
Bears do much the same and forage for most of their food.
They will hunt, but mainly for fish and small land mammals that pose little harm. In the summertime, Bears can be found hunting in wet meadows along rivers and estuaries, where there is little interference.
Bears that live close to human developments are more likely to hunt and interact with Raccoons. This is due to the growing prevalence of Raccoons in urban areas and resource-rich cityscapes.
Bears are opportunistic and have even been known to eat dead Raccoons (roadkill) that have been left on the side of the road.
How Do Bears & Raccoons Compare?
Bears and Raccoons have a lot more in common than you’d first imagine. Whilst Bears and Raccoons are both definitively categorised as omnivorous mammals, they also belong to the same order (Carnivora). This means that Bears and Raccoons are distant cousins and share a fair amount of the same genome.
There are obvious differences between the two species, the main one being their size. Bears and Raccoons share a common ancestor. The evolutionary tree of the order Carnivora clearly demonstrates a link between these two species.
Evolution favored Bears who were able to grow much bigger and stronger than Raccoons. Bears managed to evolve from small tree-climbing mammals called Miacids to the charismatic megafauna we know today.
What Does Habitat Loss Mean for Bears & Raccoons?
Bears and raccoons are both scavengers, and as humans encroach on native habitats, bears and raccoons are increasingly competing for scraps from within human trash.
Habitat loss for any species causes a multitude of problems and consequences, some of which we’re not even fully aware of yet. Bears are noticeably being pushed out of their natural environments, leaving them to encroach on human settlements.
The havoc caused by hungry Bears is a direct result of deforestation, especially in North America.
The Raccoon population has ballooned over the last eighty years. Increasing numbers have been found in and around some of the biggest city centres in the world.
Raccoons are usually more at home nesting in suburban or even wooded areas, but the attraction of ‘fast food’ and a ‘city lifestyle’ is more than enough to draw them out.
Whilst both Bears and Raccoons are known to be shy creatures, the noticeable reduction in their natural habitats plays a pivotal role in their future population health. Light pollution, environmental degradation and global warming are just some of the factors that are damaging essential habitats for these animals.
Scientists still don’t know what the lasting impact will be regarding the deterioration of biological resources but we do know that the consequences may soon become irreversible.
How to Protect Raccoons and Bears
The number of Bears has dwindled in the last fifty years. Formerly hunted for their meat, hides, and big game trophies, the wild Bear population is slowly recovering. Conservationists are making efforts to restore lost habitats and revitalize bear communities that are in threat.
Urban Raccoons are being reintroduced to areas with large Bear populations in an effort to restore the balance of the ecosystem. Looming Raccoon populations can provide Bears with vital nutrient-rich resources, which will in turn curb overpopulation and the spread of diseases such as rabies and canine distemper.
It’s important to allow for the cycle of nature to take place in order to effectively control the populations of endemic wild animals such as Bears and Raccoons.
If native habitats are destroyed and crucial resources are extracted from the world’s remaining green spaces, then the balance that keeps population control in check will be unstable. This could destabilize harmonious interactions between bears and raccoons and impact one or both of the animals’ population health.
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Bears do eat raccoons, but they don’t form a major part of the bear’s diet. They would prefer to eat berries, plants, and fish. If a bear does eat a raccoon, it is likely to be carrion meat (a recently dead carcass) rather than a raccoon that the bear has actually hunted down. Raccoons are too fast for bears to hunt them down.
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