This report is authored by Cynthia Chan and focuses on the preservation of the endangered grizzly bears. Grizzlies, which are members of the Carnivora order, are omnivorous creatures with a specialized tubelike gut designed for consuming meat. The aim of this report is to improve understanding about grizzly bears and explore potential approaches for safeguarding this highly vulnerable species.
Grizzly bears, also known as large brown bears, possess coarse fur with silver tips and prominent brown humps on their shoulders. The appearance of these humps is often considered unappealing by many individuals. These bears feature front claws that can reach a length of 5 inches, surpassing the size of their back claws. Grizzlies typically navigate with flat feet on the ground and seldom assume an upright position while walking. At full maturity, they can measure up to 8 feet in length and have an average weight of approximately 850 pounds. However, certain exceedingly large male grizzlies can exceed 1200 pounds in weight, surpassing the combined weight of six colossal men.
Although grizzly cubs may appear small despite their large size, it is important not to underestimate them as they are one of the most powerful and fastest creatures on Earth. With impressive speeds ranging from 35-40 mph, grizzlies can even outpace humans. After emerging from their winter dens, grizzlies are often extremely thin due to months without food. Their initial meal following hibernation usually comprises remains from a moose or caribou that did not survive the winter. The consumption of a substantial amount of food is crucial for grizzlies to endure hibernation.
Near the sea, grizzlies can come across a beached whale or a dead sea lion or walrus. When the earth turns green, they consume roots and sedges, which are grasses that grow in wetlands. Sedges are particularly important as they grow quickly in the spring and are high in protein. Grizzlies also have a varied diet that includes nuts, insects, salmon and trout, as well as small mammals like squirrels. They may consume approximately 400 squirrels annually. Grizzlies have a keen sense of smell for male and female fish, with a preference for the latter due to their delicious eggs. During salmon season, a grizzly may catch 10 salmon but can afford to release some. However, when salmon are scarce, they will hungrily consume every fish they catch. On occasion, grizzlies may only eat the head and eggs of a fish while disregarding the rest, but this does not go to waste as nearby gulls eagerly swoop in for leftovers. Once the salmon run is over, grizzlies turn their attention to berries such as blueberries, crowberries, cranberries, but their favorite is soapberries.
The grizzly bear, also known as the North American bear, inhabits Alaska, western Canada, and The Rocky Mountains. In Alaska, where temperatures can reach 50 degrees below 0 in midwinter, grizzlies hibernate in underground dens covered by a blanket of snow.
If berry crops fail, grizzlies are more likely to search for human foods. A bear can consume up to 200,000 berries in a day. During autumn, their droppings may consist of the berries they previously ate.
About 200 grizzlies reside in Yellowstone National Park for safety reasons, while approximately 500 to 600 live in other areas. Grizzly bears prefer undisturbed forests and rugged mountains but can also be found in arctic wilderness areas. Preserving large landscapes is crucial for their survival due to their need for ample space.
Despite not requiring untouched areas, grizzlies would be significantly fewer if they did. Instead, they freely roam in the remaining scraps of wilderness as both predators and prey. They hunt various small animals such as squirrels, fish, caribou, wolves, Dall sheep, and moose while also being hunted by larger predators like moose and caribou. Consequently, mother grizzlies fiercely protect their cubs. Grizzlies are classified as true hibernators capable of surviving 3 to 5 months without food or up to 7 months in northern Alaska. They often construct dens on slopes with accumulated snow for better insulation. Cubs are typically born during midwinter in litters of 1 to 4 depending on local food availability with twins likely being more common overall.
Mother grizzlies can reproduce until almost 30 years of age, and they can live up to 30 years, although few make it beyond 20. Grizzly cubs are helpless and small at birth but grow quickly thanks to their mother’s milk. By the time warm weather arrives for the first time, they become robust and playful. These cubs are very curious and will retain this characteristic throughout their lives. They focus on their mother and learn by watching and imitating her. By their second year, they start fishing for themselves, although they are rarely successful at first. Two-thirds of cubs die in their first year, with marauding males being the only proven cause of death, despite the possibility of starvation or disease claiming some as well.
Grizzlies mate during the spring and summer months, typically between May and July. Female grizzlies do not immediately become pregnant when they start mating. It is believed that males locate their mates using olfactory clues such as scent left on rubbing posts. Grizzlies avoid contact with other bears until the fishing season, when they gather along streams. If two bears who have fought before meet again, the loser surrenders its place to the winner to prevent further conflict. In a fight, grizzlies possess immense strength and can grab their opponent’s teeth and throw them to the ground. While grizzlies are known for killing people, visitors to mountain parks are more likely to be struck by lightning than fatally attacked by a grizzly.