I’d be up there at the top of the list claiming everyone should eat black bear meat at least once in their lives.
I’m not sure I could say the same for brown bears. There are two main reasons people choose to eat black bears over brown bears:
- Black bears have more hunting opportunities
- Most black bears taste better
Eating Black Bear vs Eating Brown Bear
One of the main reasons hunters eat black bears and not brown bears is because of taste.
The right black bear tastes amazing, in my opinion, and the option of hundreds if not thousands of other hunters.
Fall black bears tend to be better eating because they spend all late summer eating blueberries and building up a layer of blueberry-tasting fat.
Many hunters prefer fall black bear to spring bears.
Spring black bears have very little fat after hibernation and will readily eat anything they can find, and this includes carrion, moose calves, and even human trash.
The reason for the difference in hunters’ preference is bears taste very much like what they feed on.
Would you rather eat a bear that has a faint scent and taste of blueberry or one that has a faint scent and taste of rotten fish?
This is the most common problem people have with eating brown bears.
Black Bear vs Brown Bear Diet
You are what you eat. At least, that is the case when it comes to eating bears.
Bears taste and smell like what they eat. I’ve experienced both sides when it comes to eating bears.
I’ve had plump black bear that has been gorging on blueberries all summer, and I had a bear that had been recently feasting on a moose carcass; the contrast is eye-opening.
Now I can hear the argument that brown bears also eat blueberries and grasses just like black bears, and I totally get it.
However, the brown bears with the same diet as black bears are usually in states or provinces with no brown bear hunting.
For U.S citizens, your only chance of hunting a brown bear is in Alaska. Brown bears in Alaska feed on more fish and carrion than black bears of Montana.
There is an exception for some interior brown bears in Alaska, and you best believe that many of the locals do eat these bears.
Brown Bear Hunting Regulations
As I briefly touched on above, the lack of hunting opportunities is one of the biggest reasons for people not eating brown bears.
Most hunters will have to head to Alaska if they want to hunt a grizzly. Kodiak sees many non-residents every year for many people to hunt their dream grizzly.
And unfortunately, much of that meat does not get eaten for the reasons we mentioned above. A Kodiak grizzly spends much of its life feeding on salmon, shellfish, and meat.
This does not make for a great-tasting bear, and you can’t really blame someone for not wanting to eat it.
Grizzlies that live in interior states such as Montana would make for great table fare, but unfortunately, these bears are not huntable.
Can You Eat Brown Bears?
Eating brown bears is no different from eating black bears. All bears come with the risk of carrying trichinella.
Regardless of whether it’s a brown or black bear, the meat should be cooked to 160 degrees to eliminate any risk of trichinosis.
Brown bear carries no extra risk of illness compared to black bear, and hunters need to stop worrying about eating brown bear.
Grizzlies have a reputation for being meat-eaters and coldblooded carnivores, but this is not entirely true.
How many times have you been scouting elk and see grizzlies feeding on sedge grass or blueberries?
I would consider this a good eating bear.
The biggest proponent against eating brown bears is the lack of opportunities to hunt them.
It’s difficult to eat something that you can’t legally hunt in most places.
Brown bear meat is not as widely consumed as black bear meat, mostly because of hunting restrictions.
The only places that are open to brown bear hunting have bears that mostly feed heavily on fish and carrion.
Whereas the opportunity to hunt black bears is wide open, and hunters regularly take a blueberry fattened black bear.
On the whole, there are very few brown bears hunted. Granted, some hunters will leave the meat to go to waste, but if there were more opportunities to hunt brown bears, you would see more hunters open up to the idea of eating grizzlies.