Ask a Bear

Ask a Bear: Do Bears Eat Maple Syrup?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our 'Ask A Bear' column.

kodiak bear
Andy Rogers

Q: Bears are famous for eating honey. Do they seek out maple syrup or sap in the wild too? —Sweet Tooth in Saskatchewan 

A: Hell, I’d eat maple syrup if someone gave me a jug. That stuff is the bomb. Humans aren’t good for much, but you sure know your condiments, eh.

Sadly, I don’t have much opportunity, aside from when my local Boy Scout troop totally botches their food hangs. Unlike honey, maple syrup doesn’t exist naturally, and maple sap, its precursor, is pretty dilute—only about 1 to 1.5 percent sugar. It’s got about as much flavor of a can of La Croix. (Believe me. I’m a connoisseur of all things left in coolers.)

That said, we bears do have a sweet tooth, and we can be crafty. Ben Kilham, who runs both a maple sugaring operation and a bear cub rehabilitation center in western New Hampshire, says he was walking a pair of cubs through his sugar bush one day and they discovered sap leaking from a line. Needless to say, they took a liking to it: Soon after he put the little guys back in their enclosure, they bit a maple tree to get it to run sap.

But that’s just kid stuff. Basically, maple sap just isn’t an efficient enough food source for us mature adults to waste our time on. The other thing is that maple sap harvest usually happens during March and April, and I’m still PTFO in my den at that point in the year. And as much as I like sugar, I like my beauty sleep more.