Grizzly Bears

Grizzly Bears

Grizzly bear, also known as Brown Bear, is a large predator distinguished by a distinctive hump on the shoulders and long claws with nails that are as long as a human finger. Most grizzly bears have a darkish brown color though the coat may vary from light cream to black color also. Grizzly bears have a long muzzle and a big head. The grizzlies get their grizzled appearance from the long guard hairs on their backs and shoulders that turn white at the tips.

Brown bears are enormous..and that’s an understatement! Male grizzlies can reach up to 1,000 pounds or more of sheer mass and females touch a cool 500 pounds if they have a mind to. They stand an amazing 7 ft. tall. The coast of Alaska and British Columbia and some islands like Kodiak and Admiralty can boast of the heftiest grizzlies seen. A consistent diet comprising of high supply of protein from salmon helps the grizzly bear to grow.

Size has no bearing upon the agility and speed of this handsome beast. It can easily reach a speed of 40 mph when in the mood. Grizzly bears are found in a variety of habitats from the arctic tundra to the dense forests and subapline meadows. The brown bear is thought to have lived in the Great Plains of North America, but human encroachment has led them to adapt to life in the rugged mountains, dense forests and caves.  The grizzly bears are nocturnal in habit, meaning that most of their activities are carried out at night. Surprisingly, these bears are not true hibernators though they do go to sleep during the winters. But they a quick to wake up if disturbed. Female grizzly bears are ready for sexual activity by the time they reach 5-7 years. The internal system of the female is designed in such a way that fertilization takes place late and babies arrive only January and February while the mothers are hibernating. A litter usually contains 2-3 cubs and the cubs will remain with their mothers till they are 3-4 years old. Since the mother has her hands full looking after and caring for her young ones, she will not bear again till her cubs leave her. Successive litters have a 3-5 year gap between them.

The eating habits of the grizzly bear shows how advanced it is in terms of adaptation. It is an omnivore, meaning it will eat vegetation as well as meat. Sedges, roots, grass, berries, fruits, fish, carrion, and small mammals comprise the gourmet meal of an average bear. In some areas, the big brown bears have even specialized in eating big mammals like moose, elk and caribou. Areas that are near flowing and gushing water bodies have seen an increase in taste for fresh salmon and huge populations of bear congregate to eat this booty. In a nutshell, the brown bear has adapted to its surroundings so well that it eats whatever is available in its area of residence.

Large grizzly bears are usually loners and prefer their own company. They live in a community only during cub-rearing season, or when food is in abundant supply. Depending upon the location, grizzly bear go to sleep for about 5-8 months during which time they use up all their stored fat. It is quite natural that they wake up very hungry and very nasty. They gorge during the summer and the fall to build up sufficient fat reserves to see them through the denning period. This is especially true for the females who give birth to 1 pound cubs and then nurse them to 20 pound cubs – all the while eating nothing at all. Mothers are ferocious and very territorial when it comes to protecting their babies. Most grizzly bears live up to 25 year in the wild.

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Grizzly Bears In Alaska
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