When you are in a survival situation, maintaining your food supply is paramount. Even the best-prepared prepper will eventually run low on food, and there are all sorts of disasters and accidents that can destroy or spoil what food you have on hand.
Luckily, there are plenty of animals out there that make for good eating, including quite a few that you would never consider otherwise. How about black bears? Can you eat black bears in a survival situation?
Yes, black bear meat is safe to eat so long as it is thoroughly cooked. It is highly nutritious and calorie dense, making it a great option if you can get it.
I know that a lot of preppers worry about bears in a survival situation because they are afraid of being eaten by them, but you should know that people all around the world have eating bear meat for ages.
Learn what you need to know about the practice in the rest of this article.
Nutritional Info about Black Bear Meat
Black bear meat is surprisingly nutritious, containing high levels of protein and fat, and minerals like iron, phosphorous, and selenium.
Notably black bear meat is, pound for pound, the most iron-dense meat you can get!
It is also a good source of B vitamins, specifically B1 and B2. This makes it a dependably healthier option compared to many other meats.
Depending on when you harvest a black bear, the fat content of the meat might be quite high compared to its nominal baseline of 13-15%.
Black bears pack on weight in the form of fat ahead of their winter hibernation, and so a bear killed in the late autumn can yield meat with as much as 30% fat.
This high-fat content makes the meat highly calorie dense, which can be a boon in a survival situation where you might be burning lots of calories yourself.
What Does Bear Meat Taste Like?
Black bear meat has a unique taste, often described as similar to pork but with a more “open” or coarse texture and a notably wild, succulent, and sweeter flavor.
The taste will also vary depending on what the bear has been eating; if they have been consuming lots of berries or other fruits then the meat will take on a sweeter flavor whereas more savory tastes come from a diet of acorns or other nuts.
Some people also say that the taste of bear meat can be gamey, and this is true, but this is more a result of how it is prepared and cooked rather than the natural flavor of the meat.
Expert cleaning, preparation, and cooking will yield a fine, delicious meal.
Generally speaking, if you like pork then you will probably enjoy black bear meat as well.
Can You Eat Raw Black Bear Meat?
No, never! Any raw meat can harbor bacteria or other pathogens which can cause food poisoning or worse, but this is especially true of bear meat which is highly likely to infect you with trichinosis.
This is a parasitic disease which is caused by a roundworm commonly found in the tissues of black bears, and it can be deadly if left untreated. In any case, this is the last thing you can afford in a survival situation!
The only surefire way to avoid contracting this disease and others from bear is to cook the meat thoroughly, until it is well done and has reached an internal temperature of 165F all the way through.
Doing so will kill off all of the harmful bugs and parasites that would otherwise infect you.
Is it Safe to Eat the Skin of the Black Bear?
Yes, so long as it is cooked, but the skin is tough, chewy, and not very appetizing. Not to mention you will have to go through the lengthy process of separating or removing the fur beforehand.
Considering the huge haul of good meat that an average black bear will provide, it is just not worth the trouble.
Is it Safe to Eat the Bones of the Black Bear?
Yes and no. Obviously, you cannot eat the bones as they are; humans are not equipped to handle eating bones like other carnivores.
You’d just wind up with shattered teeth and a ruined jaw for your trouble! Even if you did manage to swallow some pieces of bone the shards would choke you or puncture your insides.
Bad way to go no matter how desperate you are! However, with a little processing and ingenuity you can extract some excellent nutrition from the large, sturdy bones of the black bear thanks to the marrow inside.
You can boil the bones to make a nutritious broth full of protein, fat, minerals, and collagen and this makes for an excellent meal in its own right.
Alternately you can crack open or saw the bones and extract the marrow to eat as-is or to use it as a base for other soups or stews.
Marrow has long been a source of concentrated nutrition for humans and other animals, and it is one of the most calorie-dense foods you can find in nature.
It is also very easy to digest and assimilate, making it ideal for someone who might be weak or sick.
Don’t neglect this precious resource.
Are Black Bear Organs Safe to Eat?
They can be. Many organ meats are safe and nutritious so long as they are properly cleaned and cooked, but some organs such as the liver can concentrate toxins and other harmful things, making them a risky proposition.
If you do choose to eat black bear organs be sure that you know what you’re doing; a little research can go a long way towards preventing food poisoning or other illnesses.
Generally, assuming the bear is healthy overall, the heart is always a safe bet as are the kidneys, though the latter are notorious for a nasty taste unless prepped and cooked with skill.
Both are packed with nutrients and calories and can give you a much-needed energy boost in a survival situation.
Other organs like the stomach and intestines are edible, but known to harbor lots of germs, and nasty things like acid and waste.
Again, expertise in cleaning, expelling, and preparation can make these organs good to eat and nutritious, but I would warn you away from trying unless you are already practiced; you’ll have plenty of wholesome meat to deal with anyway!
What’s the Habitat of Black Bears?
Black bears are found all over North America, specifically in Canada and the United States though they are also found in Mexico.
They typically inhabit densely forested areas with lots of vegetation, but can also be found in swamps and mountainous regions.
In terms of diet, black bears are opportunistic eaters and will consume a variety of plant and animal matter, and so access to food is usually the prime determining factor for their habitat.
Black bears are generally shy and skittish animals, and will avoid contact with humans if at all possible.
However, they are also attracted to human food sources, and quickly learn to associate humans and human habitation with easy access to food, especially in places which border woodlands.
This can lead to contact and conflicts if bears enter into populated areas in search of a meal.
As a result, it is important to take precautions to avoid attracting black bears when spending time in or near their habitat, or you can use this info to your advantage if on the hunt for black bear.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.