What Does Black Bear Poop Look Like?

While region and season determine exactly what black bear poop will look like, any sample has enough clues to confirm its identification.

It surprises many that the black bear’s diet is mainly plants, fruits, berries (tons of berries), insects, and grasses like sedges. Yes, black bears do eat carrion, human garbage, and the young of other animals like deer.

Black bear poop identification.

Black bear poop comes in many sizes (ranging from a 1/2 to one pound) and shapes (loose when feeding on fruits, tubular and green when consuming grasses). Bear poop will contain the remains of any undigestible meal parts and will smell like fermented fruit if consumed recently.

The black bear scat that is tubular is roughly 1 1/2 inches in diameter and four to twelve inches long (depending on the size of the bear). It’s often found along trails (pictured below) and can indicate a well-traveled area.

If found in dense foliage and there is an area nearby with flattened vegetation, this is a sign of a black bear’s bedding area. The greater the number of scat deposits, the more likely a bear considers this its home territory.

Related: How to tell a black bear sow from a boar.

Black Bear poop identification
Freshly deposited Black bear scat, covered with undigested berries, sits on an asphalt path in central Alaska. With winter approaching, the bear was in a race against time to bulk up enough for hibernation. Photo credit: Istockphoto.com/R Lolli Morrow.

Black bear scat appearance.

What the black bear ate most recently will affect its appearance; this, coupled with its size, makes it easy to identify. What a black bear eats will depend on where it lives and the current season.

When a black bear feasts on wet foods like berries, its poop will often be globular in shape, loose, and contain many undigested berries.

Related: The 4 best bear hunting tips.

Bear poop identification.
American Black Bear Scat Pile. Photo credit: Istockphoto.com/TheBooh.

Tubular black bear scat can result from a meat or plant diet. If the black bear has eaten meat, the dung will have an odor that resembles dog feces. A recent meal consisting of mostly plants will often be green (if very fresh) or black (if exposed to strong sunlight).

Weather affects scat by darkening it (sunlight), softening its edges (rain), or turning it white and moldy (pre-hibernation scat found in early spring).

Fresh scat is usually well defined. Rain will deteriorate the consistency of the dung. And winter weather, especially snow, will cause the excrement to become moldy and white in appearance by the following spring.

Related: How to call a bear during the fall feeding frenzy.

Black bear scat
Black bear scat on a hiking path. Photo credit: Istockphoto.com/JHVEPhoto.

Black bears eat many insects, such as grasshoppers, ants, and beetles. When they find a hive with honey, they’ll consume almost everything, including the honey, bees, and bee larvae. The poop of a black bear that raids a hive will contain nearly intact bee exoskeletons.

When black bears have consumed other animals, their scat will contain fur and bones.

Black bear scat from a diet consisting of insects or meat will have a foul smell.

Related: Hunting bears for beginners.

Black bear poop
Black bear scat taken in the mountains of New Mexico. It is apparent the bear has been eating lots of seeds from surrounding fruits. Photo credit: Istockphoto.com/JJMille

Using black bear poop for beat hunting.

Finding lots of fresh black bear poop during your scouting efforts gives you all the evidence you need to set up a hunting stand or blind. You have found the perfect black bear habitat and have proof that a bear is already frequenting the area.

Apart from visually spotting a bear, there is no better indicator that this is a great place for black bear hunting.

Dennis V. Gilmore Jr.

Dennis V. Gilmore Jr. is a former Marine Sergeant and the author of several books, including two on night hunting coyotes and red and gray fox. He has written several hundred articles on predator hunting for ThePredatorHunter.com.

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