Grizzly Bears

Grizzly bears (Ursus arctos ssp.) are a subspecies of the brown bear and are one of the largest land mammals in North America.

grizzly bear walking through snow.

Habitat

Grizzly bears can be found in the northwestern states of the USA (Idaho and Montana, for example), Alaska, and Canada. They tend to live in mountainous or forested areas. Most of the Grizzlys left in North America can be found in Alaska (about 30,000) with a reported 1,500 left in other states.

Description

Grizzly bears come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. They can be beige, brown, black, or even yellow-brownish in color. It all depends on where the grizzly lives.

Like other brown bears, they have a hump between their shoulders. The hump is a good way to distinguish a grizzly bear from a black bear as black bears do not have this hump.

Grizzly bears sometimes have elongated white-tipped fur on their back and shoulder. Grizzlys also have short, rounded ears and their face appears to be sunken in. They typically have long front claws that measure about 2–4 inches in length.

The typical grizzly bear is 3 to 4 feet in length when on all four paws. It can reach up to 8 feet when standing on its hind legs. Grizzly bears weigh between 400 to 1700 pounds. Males are larger than females.

Diet

The grizzly bear is an omnivorous mammal which means it eats both plants and animals. They eat berries, flowers, sedges, herbs, nuts, grass, and tubers. However, for the most part, once there is an abundant source of food, they will eat moose, elk, caribou, white-tailed deer, mule deer, bighorn sheep, and bison.

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Of course, they also eat fish such as salmon, trout, and bass when available. Birds and their eggs, baby deer left in the grass, as well as black bears (mostly cubs and injured adults) are also on the grizzly’ss menu.

Reproduction

Female grizzly bears are able to reproduce between the ages of 3 to 5 years and onward. Gestation lasts for 4 to 5 months. Cubs are born blind, with little fur, and weigh under a pound. The cubs usually live with the mother for about 2 years.

Female grizzly bear with her two cubs.

Status

In the lower 48 states where it has been reduced to 2% of its historic range, grizzly bears have been listed as threatened since 1975 under the Endangered Species Act. Since the 1800s, the grizzly bear population has decreased from over 50,000 to between 1,000 and 1,500 in the lower 48 states. Only in Alaska, Canada, and Yellowstone National Park is it not considered to be threatened.

Interesting Facts About Grizzly Bears

  • Grizzly Bears have been put on the list of threatened animals because of the rate at which they are being hunted and killed by humans.
  • Nearly all of the grizzly Bears in the United States that survive past age 2 are shot by humans, mainly for body parts.
  • There are estimated to be between 1,000 and 1,200 Grizzly Bears living in the U.S.
  • Grizzly’s can live up to the age of 30 in the wild.
  • Plants and berries make up a large percentage of their diet, but they are omnivores. They are known to catch fish such as salmon, bass and trout and hunt deer, moose, elk, sheep, bison, as well as other types of bears.
  • They also feed on insects, particularly moths, ladybugs, ants and bees.
  • Grizzly’s can run up to 30 miles per hour (48 kilometers).
  • They have muscular bodies that are usually covered in shaggy brown fur but may also range from cream to black or a mix of colors.
  • They weigh between 330 (150 kg) and 800 pounds (363 kg) with the males being bigger and heavier.
  • They have very long claws that can easily be 3.5 inches (9 cm) long. They are used for digging and killing animals. They also have big heads, short tails and relatively small feet and ears.
  • Grizzly Bears do not reproduce until they are at least five years old.
  • They also only give birth to an average of two cubs at a time which will be cared for, if they survive, until they are two years old. The mother will not mate again until the cubs have become independent.
  • It is difficult for male Grizzly Bears to track the females’ scent because of their large territories and low Grizzly populations.
  • The Grizzly Bear can gain as much as 400 pounds total (180 kg), or 3 pounds per day before going into hibernation.
  • They hibernate in dens made on hillsides or slopes which face to the north at high elevations, usually above 5,000 feet (1,800m).
  • To reduce the risk of a predator finding their den, they will wait for a significant snowfall before hibernating for the winter.
  • Some Grizzly Bears live where food is readily available all year, in which case they do not hibernate at all.
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