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Do Bears Eat Pine Cones? (All You Need to Know)

Some of the most solitary creatures are the bears. They might look like huge intimidating creatures, yet they are known to be very docile in nature. They simply have a bad reputation due to some stupid humans and their activities against them.

If they are provoked, they will try to defend themselves. Bears do not back down, they prefer that the threat in front of them back down. Therefore, an adult bear will never show its back as it knows that is when they are the weakest.

When these huge creatures are not provoked, they can be seen to avoid confrontation with humans as they are shy and smart also. They can hide very well when they need to.

So, the question today we are answering is, “Do bears eat pine cones?”. The pine cones are usually food for the birds as they contain seeds that can be delicious for them and healthy as well.

On the other hand, bears are huge creatures that require a lot of food to sustain their huge bodies. They can be seen eating a lot of resources especially before going to hibernation.

However, today we are going to uncover the haziness surrounding them and pine cones. Do they eat pine cones or not? Let us discuss the different nuances below.

Do bears eat pine cones?

Bears are usually docile creatures unless provoked. They can be seen sometimes climbing pine trees to get to the pine cone branches. They will break those branches to feed on the pine cones. So, bears do eat pine cones. They go for the pine cone especially before they can start hibernation.

Bears are always hunting and living alone most of their lifetime. They do not need to form a community to survive in the wild, unlike certain animals that rely on this method for their survival.

Furthermore, there are some behavioral distinctions between different species of bears. Let us briefly discuss two of them below.

Black Bears: 

It is a common sight to see black bears foraging around pine trees. People might think that these bears are there to eat the pine cones. However, this is further from the truth.
Black bears usually do this to find the squirrel’s hordes of pine nuts, seeds and other nuts. It is then where the black bears consume the already cleaned pine cones of their scales. 

Bears of most kinds can be seen following the same behavior. This is them working smart instead of working hard.   

Brown Bears: 

Brown bears are notorious for chewing up unripe cones when they are hungry. Unlike the black bears, they do not wait for the squirrels to clean the scales of the cones. 

They will also eat the nuts along with their nutshell when they look for ripe cones. The process they go through is usually breaking the branches from the tree’s trunk.

Do bears eat pine cones before hibernation?

Bears voluntarily go to hibernation to conserve energy when the availability of food declines. Most of the time they do this during the winter season when the scarcity of food is at its highest.

Bears also sometimes enter a lighter state of hibernation where they sleep but not in deep slumber, that is called torpor. Moreover, right before the bears go into hibernation the bear will have a final meal that consists of pinecones, bark, and its hair.

Therefore, we can say that bears do eat pine cones before hibernation. This diet and other things that they eat bulk them up for the harsh months of cold ahead. 

3 reasons why bears eat pine cones

When it comes to bear’s food list, there is very little of them to come by. Pine cones are an exception, as they are available wherever. However, if we were to go into detail as to why the bears eat pine cones, then keep reading below to know.

Alternative Food: 

Bears sometimes can eat up to 90 pounds on a regular basis before they go into deep hibernation. The fact that bears can eat so much and also because they need to, the different food materials can get diverse.
One of them is seeds. Some species work smart and get into the hordes of the squirrels to get some tasty treats. Some species will get to work and half eat pine cones when they can.   

Fat Reserves: 

Bears can sometimes consume pine cones and seeds instead of other food materials. This is because they are easier to eat and can help them increase their fat reserves exponentially. 

Thus, this makes the seeds a great food item before they go into hibernation.   

Low Effort: 

Usually the food items that bears eat or favor over others, are the ones that are hard to get a hold of. A lot of effort is needed these days for the bears to gather food especially due to the urbanization of us. 

The pine cones are low effort and high energy food and this is why they prefer it over other foods.

What do bears do with pinecones?

Bears are curious animals; they will often poke and look around the places they think holds any interest to them. Black bears for example are excellent climbers as well.

Therefore, they can reach places where usually other animals similar to them cannot. This way bears can access pine cones from the various trees in the area. As to what they do with them, keep reading below to know more. 

Fecal Block:

When it is around the end of the season the bears will gather pine cones, twigs, and pine needles as well. They do that to form a fecal block. This way they do not soil the den that they will use to hibernate. 

Eat Them:

Sometimes bears will choose to eat these pine cones instead of other foods. These are easy to get by also. The squirrel hordes them as well, and that is easy pickings for the bears.

Furthermore, bears will climb trees and break the branches of the trunks of trees. They will eat the cones and sometimes even chew the unripe cones completely as well.

What animals eat pine cones? 

In the wild, there are many animals, both mammals, avians, and other large animals like the bears themselves love to eat the pine cones and their seeds. 

Some of the animals even categorize the seeds as their favorite food. Below are some of the examples in brief. 


Animals like squirrels go above and beyond when it comes to pine cones. They eat both the scales of the cone on the outside as well as the nuts. 

Squirrels love these so much that they will even eat the mature brown cones if they are unable to find any of the unripe green ones.   


A species of woodpeckers that live in the eastern forests live off of acorns, fruits, and pine cone seeds. They are usually known as the red-bellied woodpeckers. 


These feathery friends are usually medium to large sized. Grouse usually have plump bodies along with feathered legs. They are one of the groups of birds that eat the seeds of the pine cones. 

House Sparrow:

A common bird that is more or less all over the world. They love the seeds of pine cones. 

Usually, they will scavenge the seeds from opened pine cones that are on the ground. Otherwise, they will peck at the outer scale to make an opening for the seeds.

Final Thoughts

Bears will eat the seeds of pine cones and sometimes even chew on the scales as well. They will actively climb trees and break the branches from the trunk of the tree by biting and getting to the pine cones. They will dismantle them on the ground and consume the seeds.