Bear necessities: 3 ways that bears help our environment

A black bear stands in a field of dandelions. Photo by Jillian Cooper / Getty Images

Majestic and peaceful by nature, bears are an important part of Canada’s landscape. They’re a big deal! Not only are they fascinating creatures to watch from afar, they’re also an important part of our ecosystem! Here are 3 important things bears do to help our environment:

1 Help our forests flourish: Bears consume a wide range of fruits, nuts, and berries as part of their diet. As they travel across their habitat, bears deposit seeds through their droppings, aiding in seed dispersal. Bear poo is the perfect all-in-one package of seeds and fertilizer. In one experiment, a sample of planted bear scat sprouted 1,200 seedlings! Bears are also known to drag salmon (one of their favourite foods!) into the forest. These carcasses can feed up to 50 other species including mink, marten, a variety of birds, slugs and other insects. The salmon carcasses also release nitrogen into the soil, which benefits trees, bushes and other plant species!

2 Support healthy ecosystems: Bears are apex predators in many habitats, and their presence helps regulate populations of herbivores and smaller predators. By controlling the population of herbivores, bears indirectly influence the structure and health of plant communities. Maintaining balanced predator-prey relationships contributes to a healthier and more stable ecosystem.

3 Habitat modification: Bears, through their foraging and digging behaviors, modify their habitat in beneficial ways. They create tree cavities when they strip bark for food, which later serve as nesting sites for birds and other small animals. Additionally, their digging activities help expose soil layers, promote seed germination, and create water sources for other wildlife.

You can coexist with black bears! Learn more about tools available by visiting our Resources page.

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