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What Eats Bears? (6 Top Predators)

Bears are apex predators, meaning they’re at the top of their food chain and don’t have many natural predators. Among the animals that can eat bears are wolves, cougars, bobcats, coyotes, humans, and tigers.

However, those bear predators focus mostly on bear cubs rather than adult bears. The larger bears are fearsome animals that both humans and animals fear. They’re kings of their habitats, undisputed champions that will attack or kill anyone or anything that might threaten it.

what animals eat bears

You might have already heard about fierce mother bear attacks on potential threats for their cubs – along with humans. They’re especially aggressive when they’re protecting their offspring. However, if the cubs somehow stray away too far, they’re suddenly vulnerable to attacks from predators.

Even though bears don’t have many natural predators, let’s take a look at some of the animals that may threaten them.

6 Animals that Eat Bears

Wild cats and dogs are at the forefront of animals that eat bears.

1. Wolves

When wolves create packs and travel around the area, looking for new prey to catch, they present a formidable force. While they can’t threaten an adult bear, they’re perfectly capable of catching a bear cub off-guard.

A wolf pack is also strong enough to harm an adult bear and potentially cripple it. A solitary wolf, though, will normally retreat at the sight of an adult bear. But even a lone wolf will be strong enough to overpower a bear cub, so if in any case a cub gets caught alone, it’s doomed against a wolf.

But this will only happen rarely. A pack of wolves is the only thing that may threaten an adult bear in the wild. They often share habitats but they’ll actively avoid each other in order to prevent conflicts, though.

2. Cougars and Bobcats

A cougar is a large wild cat species that has its home in both Americas. It’s typical to see this animal in mountainous areas, which is where bears also have their habitats occasionally. Grizzlies, especially, live in such areas. A bobcat is also a wild animal, although a bit smaller than a cougar.

These animals are carnivores that will catch almost any meat-based prey that might be in their habitat – except for the bear. Wild cats are normally just below the bear in terms of the food chain, although they’ll rarely prey on each other.

When that happens though, cougars will mostly focus on bear cubs rather than adult ones. They’ll look for cubs that have strayed away from their mothers and are thus not well protected. A bear mother has the ability to fight off a cougar, although it might be too late to the party once the cougar strikes swiftly.

3. Coyotes

Coyotes are more of a vulture animal rather than an active predator. It prefers if the prey is already dead so it can scavenge on its remains, although it will actively hunt on its own, too. They’ll focus on catching smaller animals such as rabbits, rodents, and even deer.

They’re capable of threatening bear cubs, but that’s only possible if there are several coyotes attacking together. An adult coyote, though, will only eat a bear if it’s already severely wounded or dead.

what animals eat bears

4. Humans

Believe it or not, humans are the biggest threat to the existence of a bear. According to official data, there are 129 recordings of bear hunts in 2020 just in Colorado. Some people do this for fun, while hunters do it out of necessity to protect humans from bear attacks, which are more and more common.

Interestingly, some people also like to eat bear meat. This type of meat is, according to reports, very similar to venison, although a bit sweeter. It allows people to create various kinds of meals, including stews, meat dishes, and more.

But even when humans attempt to catch a bear, it will try to strike back if given the chance. In that case, the bear will strike back fiercely, giving its all to try and survive and fend off its attackers. There have been many reports of bear attacks during these hunts and many hunters are injured or even killed.

5. Tigers

Bears and tigers rarely occupy the same habitats, although it does happen sometimes that they’ll encounter each other. This is especially typical in the more tropical parts of Asia where tigers and bears sometimes share the same territory.

Tigers can be dangerous to bears for many reasons. For one, they’re a bit more agile and faster, so they’re able to confuse them and scare them with their fast movements. Bears, on the other hand, will use their strong paws to strike the tiger, so these battles might go either way.

Tigers will thus focus on bear cubs more than adult bears. While conflicts with adult bears do happen, they’re actively hunting for cubs when that is possible.

6. Vultures

Injured or crippled bears are much more vulnerable to attacks from other animals, and vultures will be actively waiting around until the bear is no longer able to move. Patience is the name of the game for vultures in those cases, and they will only eat bears when they are defenseless.

This is a possible scenario in nature, but only when bears are attacked by other animals or are severely injured in one way or another beforehand. Vultures can’t harm bears on their own, although they’ll happily feed on their remains once they can do so safely.

Related: Do Bears Eat Birds?

How Does a Bear Defend Itself?

The bear is one of the most formidable animals in the world. They’re right at the top of their food chain.

The first defense mechanism comes with their genes – bears are one of the largest species in their habitat, which provides them with a natural layer of protection. No other animal will try to question its authority.

But if a bear does get attacked, it will make itself look bigger by fluffing up its fur and stand on its hind legs. This will scare their opponents and intimidate them to the point that they might give up with their attacks.

They’ll also growl when provoked, which is yet another way they can scare off potential attackers. If their attackers start running away or are at a distance, they’ll run at them aggressively.

All of these mechanisms combined mean that bears are rarely attacked – and if they are, the attacks are not successful most of the time.

Final Thoughts

The bear is one of the fiercest animals on the planet. While most bear species won’t attack other animals unless they need food or if they are challenged, some animals might try to attack bear cubs for food.

Attacks on adult bears are very rare, though. Only packs of wolves and humans can be successful when attacking bears, and humans often eat bear food, too.

Other than that, bears are considered to be apex predators, meaning that they don’t have natural enemies and are at the top of the hierarchy list in their area.