Grizzly Bear facts (Ursus arctos)


Grizzly bear
Ursus arctos

The grizzly bear is typically larger than the black bear and has a large muscle mass above its shoulders; a concave, rather than straight or convex, facial profile; and its behavior is much more aggressive. The grizzly bear is a subspecies of brown bear that once roamed large swaths of the mountains and prairies of the American West. Today, the grizzly bear remains in a few isolated locations in the lower 48 states, including Yellowstone. In coastal Alaska and Eurasia, the grizzly bear is known as the brown bear.

Grizzly bears are generally 1½ to 2 times larger than black bears of the same sex and age class within the same geographic region, and they have longer, more curved claws. Agile; can run up to 45 mph. Can climb trees but curved claws and weight make this difficult. Can also swim and run up and downhill. Adapted to life in forest and meadows. Mate in spring, but implantation of embryos is delayed until fall; gives birth in the winter; to 1–3 cubs.

The grizzly bear’s color varies from blond to black, often with pale-tipped guard hairs. In the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, many grizzly bears have a light brown girth band. However, the coloration of black and grizzly bears is so variable that it is not a reliable means of distinguishing the two species.

According to the IUCN this species is considered LEAST CONCERN (lowest threat level).
According to the IUCN this species is considered LEAST CONCERN (lowest threat level).

6-7 feet (1.8-2.1 m).

3-3.5 feet (0.9-1.0 m) to the shoulder.

Males: 300-850 pounds (136-385 kg). Females: 200-450 pounds (90-205 kg).

20-25 years

Least concern

Grizzly bears are found many different habitats, from dense forests to subalpine meadows, open plains and arctic tundra. In North America, grizzly bears are found in western Canada, Alaska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and a potentially a small population in Washington. Historically, they could be found from Alaska to Mexico and from California to Ohio.

Food includes rodents, insects, elk calves, cutthroat trout, roots, pine nuts, grasses, and large mammals.

There are several physical signs of the presence of grizzly bears in the area, especially diggings, carcasses, tree marks and bear trails. Of course, scat, prints and tracks can help determine how recent a bear was in the area. Diggings are just what they sound like: they’re pits that bears have dug, much like an eager dog, to get at tubers or small animals in the ground. Carcasses that have been partially consumed may indicate where a grizzly bear may be returning to finish the meal so if you find a carcass do not stay in the area. Tree scrapes and claw marks reveal the presence of grizzly bears, but do not indicate how recently they were there. Bear trails are tunnel-like trails bears have created in regions where traditional human-made trails do not exist. Found in backcountry situations, bear trails are easiest to identify because while they may be as wide as a typical human-built trail, a bear trail will force you to bend over in order to proceed. If you find you need to stoop over to hike a trail, you’re probably on a bear trail and should immediately leave the area as meeting a grizzly face to face in a bear trail could become a lethal encounter before you have time to react.


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