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All Creatures,

Episode 88: Our Grand Episode on Grizzly Bears

May 07, 2019

An icon in the American west, the Grizzly Bear once numbering in the hundreds of thousands, are now down to less than 1800 animals in the United States. An apex predator, misunderstood by so many, and have much to teach us about just how important they are to our environment. Listen and share this knowledge.

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Grizzly Bear Description

Just what is the difference between a Grizzly and Brown Bear? There isn’t. Quite simply, the Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) is a subspecies of Brown Bears. There are recognized 15 subspecies of Brown Bears and only 2 in North America. The Grizzly Bear, or also called the North American Brown Bear, and the Kodiak Brown Bear, a subspecies isolated on Kodiak Island off the state of Alaska. The other subspecies of Brown Bear live in Asia and Europe.

Bears evolved over the last 30 million years. Brown Bears are close relatives of Polar Bears, which split off a few hundred thousand years ago. Interesting, the Atlas Brown Bear once roamed North Africa in modern Morocco and Libya, and was hunted to extinction in the 1890s. Brown Bears migrated to the Americas roughly 50,000 years ago and were found as far south as Mexico.

Grizzly Bear Facts

The Grizzly Bear male can stand as tall as 8 feet (2.5 m) and weigh up to 800 lbs. (350 kg). Some Brown Bears can be as tall as 10 feet (3 m) and over 1700 lbs. (700 kg). Females tend to be smaller with an average height of 6.5 feet (2 m) and 500 lbs. (200 kg).

Over millions of years Brown Bears have evolved to survive in a variety of climates.

  • Live up to 20 years in the wild, 47 years under human care
  • Best sense of smell of any animal
  • Highly intelligent and have excellent memories
  • Great swimmers
  • Extremely fast, can run up to 35 mph (50 kmh)
  • Can climb trees with ease
  • Hibernate (semi) in winter months
  • Omnivores that eat a wide variety of foods, from moose and elk to rabbits and rodents, to various plants, fruit, nuts, fungus and insects

Busting Bear Myths

Mother Grizzly Climbing a Tree after a Black Bear

Conservation Status

Once spread throughout North America, Grizzly Bears have lost up to 98% of their habitat due to human exploitation. European settlers have driven the Grizzly out of much of its native habitat. The Grizzly Bear is even on the state of California’s flag; the California Grizzly went extinct in 1924.

While labeled Least Concern by the IUCN, Brown Bears only number over 110,000 throughout the world. They are a critical species to the health of any ecosystem and need to be monitored.

Conservation Tips

Climate change threatens many species, to include many species to include Brown Bears. We all need to accept, understand, and strategize on how to combat climate change. The first step is understanding your own carbon imprint. You can evaluate your carbon imprint HERE.

Fully turn off electronics when not in use. If any device has a green or red light, it means while powered down, it is still on and drawing power. By fully turning off your devices you can save 10% of your energy use, and in the end save money for your household.

Organizations to Support

Grizzly Bear Foundation

People and Carnivores

 

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