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Do Bears Eat Foxes? (Relationship Between the Two Animals)

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Bears do eat foxes, but it’s not a major part of their diet. Bears primarily eat plants, and will only prey on foxes if there’s no other food around.

A common misconception is that bears only eat meat. Some people believe the opposite to be true, that bears never eat. The answer is in between.

Bears are omnivores and eat both meat and plants. While most species primarily eat plant matter, it does vary from species to species.

But what about foxes? Do bears eat those?

That’s what we’ll discuss in this article. We’ll also shine some light on other fox predators.

Do Bears Eat Foxes?

Bears do eat foxes, but not often. Bears primarily feed on plants and other animals, such as insects, fish, or small mammals. They will however eat foxes if nothing else is available.

Foxes are usually only eaten by bears under two circumstances:

  • There’s no other food available.
  • The fox is dead, and hence the bear can easily get a meal.

Bears are opportunistic feeders – they’ll take advantage of anything they can find. They’re also scavengers and don’t mind eating a dead animal.[1]

One of the reasons why most bears prefer plant-based diets over meat-based ones is due to how much easier it is for them to digest plants. Meat takes a lot more time and energy to break down.

Plants are also more accessible, and easier to forage.

Polar bears are an exception, as they’re almost exclusively carnivorous, meaning they only eat meat.

polar bear eating meat

What Do Bears Eat?

Bears are omnivorous animals. They eat a variety of foods, including different types of plants, insects, and other small animals. While they do eat foxes on occasion, it’s not a major part of their diet. 

Foxes aren’t generally a primary source of food for bears. Instead, most bears primarily feed on plants, as up to 90% of their diet consists of plants.

The most common animals eaten by bears include:

  • Fish
  • Small mammals (rabbits, hares, etc.)
  • Insects (bees and their honey)
  • Ungulates (deer)

Bears are opportunistic predators and will take advantage of any food source they can find. If a bear comes across a fox, it may attack and eat it. 

However, if there’s an abundance of other food sources available, the bear will most likely not bother with the fox.

Related: What do bears eat?

Do Bears Hunt Foxes?

No, bears don’t actively hunt for foxes. They are opportunistic predators and will prey on foxes if they come by one, but they won’t head out looking for them. 

There’s a big difference between “hunting” and “eating”. Hunting is the activity of tracking something down, targeting a specific animal, and then killing it. Eating is simply ingesting the meat of the animal.

While bears do eat fox meat from time to time, they don’t actively hunt for them.

So while it is certainly possible for a bear to kill and eat a fox, it doesn’t happen very often.

Whenever bears do hunt foxes, it’s rather easy for them to kill the small animal. Bears are very powerful animals and can take down prey much larger than a fox. They are also intelligent and have a very good sense of smell, which allows them to track prey easily.

How Do Bears Hunt?

Bears are opportunistic omnivores, which means they’ll eat whatever is available and easiest to catch[2]. They’re not above scavenging, either. They’ll hang around dumps and garbage bins in search of food. 

But when they can, bears prefer to hunt live prey.

They usually stalk their prey before attacking, but they can also ambush their victims by surprise. Bears have a powerful sense of smell that helps them find prey from a distance. They use their sharp claws and teeth to take down large animals.

Deer slain by bears are often mauled and have several claw marks on their rear.

What Kind of Bears Eat Foxes?

Do Polar Bears Eat Foxes?

Polar bears and arctic foxes live in the same areas. Hence, it’s only natural that polar bears encounter them from time to time. While it’s not their preferred prey, they do eat arctic foxes from time to time.

These large land mammals prefer to eat seals, as they’re very high in both protein and fat – foxes typically aren’t very fatty.

angry polar bear

Do Grizzly Bears Eat Foxes?

Yes, Grizzly Bears do eat foxes. Foxes are not a major part of their diet, but they will prey on them if they have the opportunity. 

Bears primarily eat plants, but they may also prey on deer, elk, and bighorn sheep. They have even been known to eat fish, small mammals, and insects.

bear hunting in the field

Do Black Bears Eat Foxes?

Yes, black bears do eat foxes, but not as often as grizzly bears. Black bears are more herbivorous than grizzly bears, meaning, they eat more plants. Hence, it’s only natural that they’d eat less fox as well.

black bear close up

Do Bears and Foxes Get Along?

While bears are solitary animals, foxes do tend to hang around bears. They do this to avoid getting eaten by other predators.

While it may seem strange, one study[4] shows how foxes tend to hang around bears. They do this because bears are less of a threat than other predators.

Bears are known for their devotion to and protection of their cubs, but the study indicates that they may also play an important role in protecting gray foxes from predators such as coyotes, which compete with the fox for food and space. The study is one of the first to reveal how black bears act as a buffer, allowing other, smaller animals to coexist peacefully.

5 Other Fox Predators

Bears aren’t the only predators that eat foxes. Other commonly known fox predators include:

  • Eagles
  • Owls
  • Wolves
  • Coyotes
  • Mountain lions

Eagles

Eagles are predatory birds of the Accipitridae family. They are opportunistic predators, which means they will take advantage of any prey that is available to them. 

Eagles prey on a variety of animals, including fish, small mammals, and birds. They have even been known to take down foxes.

Eagles

Owls

Owls are predatory birds of the Strigidae family. They are also opportunistic predators and have been observed preying on foxes. 

Owls are nocturnal predators, meaning they hunt at night, much like foxes do. Hence, when foxes are out looking for food, an owl may prey on the kits (baby foxes).[5]

They have very good eyesight and hearing, which allows them to hunt their prey in the dark.

Great Horned Owl

Wolves

Wolves are predatory animals of the Canidae family. They are social predators, meaning they hunt in packs. While they typically prey on ungulates, including deer, elk, and bighorn sheep, they’re not above eating foxes.

They are social animals that live and hunt in packs. The pack is led by an alpha male and female. Wolves are very intelligent animals and have a very good sense of smell, which allows them to track prey even when they’re hidden.

Related: Do wolves eat foxes?

wolf eating its prey

Coyotes

Coyotes are medium-sized canids that are found throughout most of North America. Coyotes are mostly scavengers, and they will eat just about anything, including foxes.

These predators and scavengers are among the top predators of foxes. Larger predators typically target larger animals, but as coyotes are just a bit larger than foxes, they tend to target them.

coyote in canada

Mountain Lions

Mountain lions are the largest wild cats in North America. They are solitary animals that live in mountain areas.

These are very dangerous animals, and they should be avoided if possible. While they typically don’t hunt foxes, they may eat them from time to time. This doesn’t happen very often though.

Mountain lions are carnivores and their diet consists mostly of deer, but they will also eat smaller animals such as raccoons, rabbits, and foxes.

mountain lion in the wilds

Conclusion

While bears do eat foxes, it doesn’t happen very often. Bears primarily eat plants but may prey on foxes if they have the opportunity and if there is no other food around. 

Foxes also tend to hang around bears, as they’re less of a threat than other predators, such as coyotes. As bears prey on coyotes, the coyotes will stay away.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.

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