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Facts about Grizzly Bears

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    A subspecies of the larger coastal brown bear, the grizzly bear gets its name from the grayish, or grizzled, tips of its fur.

    • Type: Mammal
    • Diet: Omnivore
    • The average lifespan in the wild: 25 years
    • Size: 5 to 8 ft (1. 5 to 2. 5 m)
    • Weight: 800 lbs (363 kg)
    • Protection Status: Threatened
    • Size relative to a 6-ft (2-m) man:
    • Fast Facts:
    • Grizzly bear
    • Species name: Ursus arctos horribilus
    • Average weight: 250 – 350 kg (male) 125 – 175 kg (female)
    • Life expectancy: 15 – 20 years

    The grizzly bear is a North American subspecies of the brown bear.

    These awe-inspiring giants tend to be solitary animals—with the exception of females and their cubs—but at times they do congregate. Dramatic gatherings of grizzly bears can be seen at prime Alaskan fishing spots when the salmon run upstream for summer spawning. In this season, dozens of bears may gather to feast on the fish, craving fats that will sustain them through the long winter ahead. Brown bears dig dens for winter hibernation, often holing up in a suitable-looking hillside. Females give birth during this winter rest and their offspring are often twins.

    Grizzly bears are powerful, top-of-the-food-chain predators, yet much of their diet consists of nuts, berries, fruit, leaves, and roots. Bears also eat other animals, from rodents to moose. Grizzlies are typically brown, though their fur can appear to be white-tipped, or grizzled, lending them their traditional name. Despite their impressive size, grizzlies are quite fast and have been clocked at 30 miles (48 kilometers) an hour. They can be dangerous to humans, particularly if surprised or if humans come between a mother and her cubs. Grizzlies once lived in much of western North America and even roamed the Great Plains.

    European settlement gradually eliminated the bears from much of this range, and today only about 1,000 grizzlies remain in the continental U. S., where they are protected by law. Many grizzlies still roam the wilds of Canada and Alaska, where hunters pursue them as big game trophies. Did you know? The grizzly bear is the second-largest land carnivore in North America. Physiology The grizzly bear is the second-largest land carnivore in North America. It has a strong, heavy body with an average length of 1. meters from nose to tail. It is distinguished from other bears by the large shoulder hump that supports its massive front legs, its extremely long front claws, and the concave facial profile of its large head. The grizzly bear’s fur is usually darkish brown but can vary from ivory yellow to black. It has long hairs on its head and shoulders that often have white tips and give the bear the “grizzled” appearance from which it derives its name. Its legs and feet tend to be even darker in color. Despite its large size, the grizzly bear has been known to run at speeds of 55 kilometers per hour.

    It has well-developed senses of smell and hearing that compensates for its poor eyesight. Habitats/Behaviours The grizzly bear is a solitary animal. Individual bears have a home range, but these may overlap and are not fiercely defended. The grizzly’s habitat can range from dense forest to alpine meadow or arctic tundra. It has no predators, other than humans. Contrary to popular belief, the grizzly bear is not a true hibernator. In the winter its body temperature may drop a few degrees and its respiration may slow slightly, but it can remain active all winter.

    Although it is considered a meat-eater, the grizzly bear is actually omnivorous, which means it eats both meat and vegetation. It eats mammals and spawning salmon, when they are available, but relies mainly on vegetation for food. Plants make up 80 to 90 percent of the grizzly’s diet! It eats a variety of berries to gain fat deposits that helps it survive the winter months. The grizzly bear will also take advantage of food and garbage that is left by humans, particularly at campsites and dumps. Range The grizzly bear has the widest distribution of any species of the bear because it occupies a wide range of habitats.

    The grizzly is found in western Canada as far as the eastern boundary of Manitoba. It is also found in Alaska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Washington. The grizzly bear’s range has shrunk as human populations grow and occupy its territory. Grizzly Bear (Urus arctos horribilis) Grizzly Bears are one of the biggest land mammals in North America. It was estimated in the 1800s that as many as 50,000 grizzly bears ranged between the Great Plains and the Pacific Ocean in the lower 48 states. Today the grizzly bear is found in about 2 % of its previous range in the lower 48 states where around 1,300 grizzly bears remain in the wild.

    Alaska however has a large population of grizzlies numbering over 30,000 animals.

    Grizzly Bear Facts

    • The average male grizzly bear is about 7 feet tall and weighs between 400 to 600 pounds.
    • They generally live around 25 years.
    • Grizzly bears are omnivores and eat both plants and other animals.
    • Around 85% of their diet is green vegetation, nuts, berries, insects, and roots.
    • They do eat some meat mainly elk, moose or deer. In Alaska, Salmon is a big part of their diet.
    • Female Grizzlies have 1 to 3 cubs every 3 years or so. The cubs will stay with the mother for 2 to 3 years.
    • Grizzly bears hibernate in the winter usually 5 to 6 months. They live off their accumulated fat and don’t eat during hibernation.
    • Best National Parks for Grizzly Bear Viewing Katmai National Park, Alaska Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming Glacier National Park, Montana Denali National Park, Alaska National Park


    The Grizzly Bear in the lower 48 states was listed as Threatened in 1967. The grizzly bear recovery around Yellowstone National Park has been a great success. In 1975 it was estimated there were only 136 grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone.

    Today there are more than 580 animals and the USFWS is looking to take grizzlies in the Yellowstone Region off the threatened list soon.

    There are lots of fun facts about Grizzly Bears. Did you know that:

    • Grizzly bears, Ursus arctos horribilis, are a subspecies of the brown bear.
    • The grizzly gets its name from its white-tipped or grizzled fur.
    • The grizzly bear once roamed North America from the Pacific Ocean to the Great Plains.
    • Today, grizzlies are found in only 5 U. S. states (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington, and Alaska) and 4 Canadian provinces (British Colombia, Alberta, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories).
    • Grizzlies are omnivores meaning they eat both plants and animals.
    • Grizzly bears prey on large animals such as moose, sheep, deer, and elk. They feed on fish including salmon and trout. And grizzlies eat roots, tubers, berries, and nuts.
    • Grizzly bears are the second-largest member of the bear family. Male grizzlies can stand 10 ft (3m) tall and weigh more than 1,000 lbs (454 kg).
    • Grizzlies are easily identified by their long, curved claws, shoulder hump, and concave or dish-shaped face.
    • Grizzly bears can run up to 35 mph (56 km/h) but they can only do so for short distances. Grizzlies are sprinters not marathon runners.
    • Grizzlies, like all other bears, retreat to their den in winter. Yet grizzly bears are not true hibernators. Their body temperature drops only a few degrees and breathing rate slows just slightly.
    • What’s more, grizzlies sleep lightly and are easily awakened from their winter slumber. Did You Know? Grizzly bears may gain as much as three pounds of weight a day as they prepare for hibernation.

    Defenders at Work Since the species was first listed as threatened in 1975, Defenders of Wildlife has worked to promote grizzly bear recovery throughout the northern Rockies. And our efforts are not without reward: grizzly numbers have nearly tripled in the greater Yellowstone area in the past three decades, and 48% of the bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem now call Glacier National Park home. Reasons For Hope Defenders of Wildlife created the Defenders of Wildlife Grizzly Compensation Trust in 1997 to compensate ranchers for livestock losses to grizzlies.

    In 1999 Defenders of Wildlife went a step further by starting a fund to promote proactive initiatives to prevent conflicts between bears and humans, like installing bear-resistant garbage dumpsters and electric fences. By focusing on conservation efforts that keep bears alive and encourage habitat sustainability, Defenders is working to achieve a healthy, resilient grizzly population throughout the West. Legal


    Endangered Species Act (ESA): In 1975, The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the grizzly bear as a threatened species in the Lower 48 states, under the Endangered Species Act.

    In Alaska, where there are estimated to be over 30,000 grizzly bears, they are classified as a game animal with regionally established regulations. The Yellowstone population of grizzly bears was declared recovered and removed from the threatened species list in April of 2007.

    Did you know that the grizzly bear (Ursus horribilis)A can weigh up to 800lbs and reach heights of up to 8 feet when standing on its rear legs? With such mass and size you would expect it to be extremely slow but despite such size, it can sprint at speeds as high as 40km/h which is faster than an Olympic athlete. In terms of behavior and temperament, the grizzly bear is a solitary animal sticking to itself except during the mating season. Its reputation of being extremely aggressive is a little exaggerated as in most cases it won’t go out of its way to hunt humans or cause trouble.

    So why do people fear grizzly so much? Well, much of its aggressive reputation stems from the fact that it can’t climb trees very well, which is what most bears do to avert danger. This ultimately means that a threatened grizzly is more likely to stand its ground and attack an oncoming threat rather than running and hiding. So despite the stories and the movies, the grizzly in most cases is unlikely to go on aggressive hunting sprees. More so their omnivores so will just as happily consume berries, fruits, pine nuts, and roots.


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