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Grizzly Bear Ursus arctos


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Grizzly Bear
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Alternate name: Brown Bear, Alaskan Brown Bear, Kodiak Bear

Family: Ursidae, Bears view all from this family

Description Impressive, powerful, large brownish bear with a massive head with a dished facial profile and a humped shoulder. Fur color variable and may be virtually any shade of brown. Head and shoulders are typically paler than the darker sides, belly, and legs. Front claws are extremely long. Ears are round and indistinct and tail is short. Variable in size with larger coastal and island (including Kodiak Bear) populations and smaller inland (Grizzly Bear) forms. Males are larger.

Dimensions 1.0-2.8m, 6-21cm, 80-600kg

Endangered Status  The subspecies of the Grizzly Bear that lives in the contiguous U.S. is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as threatened in the lower 48 states, although its current range extends only into Idaho, Montana, Washington (rarely), and Wyoming. (It has not been recorded in Colorado in many years.) Perhaps 50,000 Grizzlies roamed the western U.S. in 1800 from the Canadian border to Mexico, as far east as the middle of the Great Plains. The settlement and development of the West meant changes to and destruction of the Grizzly's habitat, competition with humans for game such as White-tailed Deer, and clashes between bears and humans. Grizzlies were seen as a threat to humans and livestock, and were hunted, trapped, and poisoned extensively, both for food and fur and to eliminate them from areas where humans lived. In 1975, when the Grizzly Bear came under the protection of the U.S. Endangered Species Act, only about 1,000 remained in the lower 48 states. Habitat degradation, from recreational and residential development, road building, and mineral and energy exploration, remains a threat today. Even the development of areas that Grizzlies don't normally live in can be destructive, because the bears may use these areas as corridors to reach suitable feeding habitat. Some private landowners and companies have volunteered to protect these corridors on their land in order to protect the bears. Plans to reintroduce Grizzlies into suitable habitat in the U.S. Northwest have faced serious opposition and may never come to pass.

Warning All North American bears can be dangerous in the following situations: when accompanied by cubs, when surprised by the sudden appearance of humans, when approached while feeding, guarding a kill, fishing, hungry, injured, or breeding, and when conditioned to human foods, as has occurred in some Canadian and U.S. parks. Campers must firmly seal up food and place it out of reach. Bears will break into unattended vehicles if they smell food. The Grizzly is the most dangerous of all bears. Do not feed, approach, surprise at close range, or get between a Grizzly Bear and its food or cubs. While Grizzlies normally avoid humans, they will attack and have been known to seriously injure and even kill humans. Grizzlies can outrun humans, and can climb trees. If charged by a Grizzly, stand your ground; if attacked, lie flat on your stomach and play dead.

Breeding Breeding is in May-July, but implantation delayed until November, and gestation is 6-8 weeks while the female is hibernating. In January-March, 1-4 young are born growing rapidly from a birth weight of 500g to 15kg by 3 months of age. Maximum life span is 20-30 years in the wild.

Habitat Forests & woodlands, Alpine & subalpine habitats, Scrub, shrub & brushlands, Lakes, ponds, rivers & streams, Meadows & fields, Beaches, shorelines & estuaries

Range Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Northwest, Western Canada, Alaska

Discussion Leaves marks on trees like Black Bears. Omnivore and predator. Threatened and declining through much of its range in North America and Europe. Seasonally abundant near salmon spawning streams. Solitary, except for females with cubs. Persists in remote forests, tundra, and open plains.