FACT: Black Bears den at different times throughout North America because of three factors: the availability of food, the photoperiod, and temperature. First and foremost is the availability of food. Food drives its life and behavior whether it is awake or asleep. When God’s naturally provided food disappears then their body tells them to go to sleep until spring.
A hard mast failure and human-provided food will cause bears to not go into hibernation. The failure to get enough food to stored fat forces a starving bear to continue to forage. Conversely, the availability of man provided food, i.e. trash, wildlife and birdfeeders, and pet food, will keep their bodies from triggering the need to hibernate.