GRIZZLY BEAR, BROWN BEAR
How large are Jasper Alberta's Grizzly Bears?
- Mass: 100 to 780 kg
Length: to 2.4 m (8 feet)
- Wildlife living area: tundra, taiga, temperate forest & rainforest
Range: Ursus arctos(Grizzly Bears) range in small numbers in Alaska and western Canada and possibly northern Mexico. Also in eastern Siberia and Hokkaido, and from western Europe and Palestine to the Himalayan region, and possibly the Atlas Mountains of northwest Africa.
- Grizzly bears have been long considered the most dangerous animal in North America, although real danger of attack from a Grizzly Bear is often exagerated. In general, brown bears attempt to avoid human contact and will not attack unless startled at close quarters with young or engrossed in a search for food. They are very unpredictable in temperment, however, and often exhibit impulsive and petulant behavior.
- Many people in Jasper have had encounters with Grizzly bears and all would tell you that there was instictual fear present, but all would also tell you that their Grizzly encounter left them with more of a peaceful understanding. Although equipped to kill humans very easily, the Grizzly bear is observed as wanting space when around us, showing an obvious interest in either us or him not being present to an encounter. As humans are the intruders here, it would be expected of us to retreat, but often it is the Grizzly bear that does so.
Where do Grizzly Bears Live?
Jasper's Grizzly Bears
Front paw track ranges from 5 to 7 inches in length (13 - 18 cm); rear track is from 10 to 12 inches in length (25 - 30 cm). Tracks can be differentiated from Black Bear by evidence of larger claw markings in the Grizzly Bear print.
Grizzly or Brown Bear Tracks.
Human - Grizzly Bear ConflictsHuman Fatalities from Bear Attacks in North America >>
Grizzly Bear / Brown Bear / Kodiak Bear Facts
Taxonomy: While there has been much confusion about the taxonomy of brown bears (Ursus arctos), taxonomists agree there are at least two subspecies in North America -- the grizzly bear (U. a. horribilis) and the Kodiak bear (U. a. middendorffi). The Kodiak bear has lived separately on Kodiak, Afognak, and Shuyak Islands in southwestern Alaska for thousands of years with no interbreeding with other populations. However, there is no such geographic demarcation between the coastal U. a. gyas and the inland U. a. horribilis. There is a continuum of difference between the larger coastal brown bears and the interior individuals that are generally called grizzly bears.
Simply separating the Bears' names are that Coastal brown bears have a greater amount of animal protein in their diet, achieve larger size, and have slight differences in coloration.
Home Ranges: Grizzly bears can be found in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories; and the US states of Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington, and Montana. In general Bears' home rangea are between 10 and 380 square miles. A grizzly bear's home range is basically inland – away from major bodies of water. In most cases, a grizzly bear's home range includes an area of forested land or shrub cover, which is used mostly for escape.
Gathering and Eating Food: Grizzly bears feed on berries (blueberries, bearberries, buffalo berries, etc.), roots, bulbs of plants, ground dwelling rodents, and whitebark pine nuts. Sometimes grizzlies will locate a cache of these nuts that a ground squirrel has stored for the winter. With their excellent sense of smell, grizzlies can locate carrion from miles away and will readily feed on it. These easy meals are fiercely protected by any Bear.
Grizzlies may also prey on moose, elk, mountain goats and mountain sheep. During the spring months, grizzlies also feed on the calves of these animals.
Another major food source for grizzlies are cutworm moths. During the summer months in the Yellowstone area, these moths congregate on sub-alpine plants located above the timberline at elevations higher than 10,000 feet. During the early morning hours these moths drink nectar and then during the day they cluster on the surrounding rocks. Grizzlies from all around climb to these high elevations to consume 10,000 to 20,000 of these moths a day. At times like this, when food is abundant, numerous grizzlies will congregate and feed together. Once the food source is depleted, the grizzlies will go their separate ways in search of other food.
Kodiak bears generally rely on the same types of food as grizzlies, with one addition. Living in coastal areas provides these bears with a rich supply of protein. These coastal areas are so rich in salmon that a 40% higher density of brown bears can be supported in those locations.
Face: Brown bears have a concave or dish-shaped face.
Paws: Grizzly bear paws are black or brownish in color with wrinkled skin on the pads.
Shoulder Hump: Brown bears have a distinguishing shoulder hump. This hump is actually a mass of muscle, which enables brown bears to dig and use their paws as a striking force. This hump may have evolved as Grizzly Bears focused more on digging for roots; the muscle mass being an adaptation through natural selection.
Claws: Brown bear claws are long and curved, ranging in color from yellow to brown. In rare cases grizzlies have been observed with white claws. These claws are used to dig up roots and bulbs of plants as well as to excavate den sites. While extremely strong, Grizzly claws are not adapted well for tree climbing.
Tracks: The toes fall close together and nearly in a straight line in a brown bear track. The toe pads are generally touching each other with the smallest toe on the inside of the track. Impressions from the fore claws are usually found far in front of the toes because the claws are twice as long as the toe pads. The front tracks of brown bears measure 6-8 inches long (excluding the Bear's heel) and 7-9 inches wide. Hind tracks measure 12-16 inches long and 8 to 10.5 inches wide.
Coloration: Grizzlies range in color from white, blonde, brown, black and shades there of. The tips of most fur are lighter in color giving them that "grizzled" effect.
Growth and Development: Brown bears can weigh 150-200 pounds at the end of their first year of life. They reach sexual maturity between 4 and 5 years and are considered fully grown by 8 to 10 years of age.
Weight: Females reach their maximum weight of 270 to 770 pounds in about 8 years. Males reach their maximum weight of 330 to 1200 pounds in 12 years. The heavier a female is, the better are her chances of having cubs. The heavier a male is the better chance he has of successfully breeding with a female. Males are 20% to 200% as heavy as females.
Kodiak bears often grow to 10 feet long and weigh well over 1,000 lbs.
Surviving in the Wild: In general, Grizzly bears will flee as soon as they detect humans. Finding food, finding mates, and avoiding being preyed upon govern a brown bear's life.
Most brown bears are active during the morning and early evening hours. During the daytime they rest in day beds, often constructed in dense cover to escape the heat. During the late summer and fall months, when they are fattening up for the long months of hibernation, brown bears may be active throughout the day. As food items become scarce, the brown bear's territory increases. Within their home range, brown bears use a wide variety of habitats. Brown bears travel from alpine food sources to estuaries, to berry patches, to salmon spawning sites – visiting each site when its particular food source is available.
Dens: Dens must provide protection and security during the winter months. Brown bears can excavate a den but often use rock caves and hollow trees. Dens are dug in dry, stable soil where winter temperatures will remain above freezing. Usually the den site terrain is sloping. As snow falls it covers and helps to insulate the den. Generally the den is just large enough to accommodate the bear. The entrance to the den leads to a tunnel that slopes downward to the actual sleeping chamber. This sloping tunnel allows stale air to escape. Most dens are used only once. Occasionally a den built in unstable ground will collapse.
Hibernation: Grizzly Bears usually hibernate by October lightly, and enter a deeper sleep in November. By March, their metabolism begins to rise with most Bears leaving their dens in April. Males have more energy, with females remaining a little more lethargic until May.
Grizzly Bear Mating: Females generally are able to reproduce between 4.5 and 10 years of age. The number of cubs in a litter depends upon the female's health and/or body weight. Mating occurs between early May and mid July with cubs born between the end of January and early March. Usually a female brown bear reproduces once every 3 to 5 years. Since only 1 in 3 females breed in a given year, males must range widely in order to find a mate. A mother brown bear will remain with her young for 1.5 to 3.5 years.