Grizzly Bears Information and Resources

Ursus Arctos Horribilis

    Everything you ever wanted to know about grizzly bears

Ursus Arctos Horribilis

In the United States, grizzly bears are found in Alaska, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. Although California displays a grizzly bear on their flag, they are no longer found there.  The word grizzly means grayish, and suggests awfulness.  Both connotations are appropriate to the grizzly bear. The coat of the grizzly changes in color from off-white to black depending on the time of the year and the location.  It is estimated that fewer than 150,000 remain in North America. 

Glacier National Park boasts one of the highest densities of grizzlies.  They can be found in open meadows, river valleys and mountain forests.  They are active day or night, but mostly in the mornings and evenings.  A female will give birth to a litter of 1 to 4 cubs which are typically born between January and March.  The cubs are hairless and helpless, and stay with mom for 2.5 - 4.5 years.  Siblings will group together for 1 - 2 years after leaving their mother.


Grizzlies are powerfully built with a large head and typically they have a perceptible hump above the shoulders.  This hump is one of the most prominent features that make it possible to distinguish grizzlies from black bears.  A male grizzly weighs between 300 and 850 pounds while the female averages 200 - 450 pounds, and their approximate life span is 20 years.  Their color varies from white to blond to brown to black.  A male will range 285 square miles while a female can forage a 450 square mile area and their diet shifts with the seasons.  Their dens are used often, and the same den is used each year. 

Grizzlies can be mistaken for black bears, but there are a number of distinguishing characteristics.  Grizzly bears have lengthy claws and less fur between their toes so that the pads seem joined together.  If you look closely, a grizzly bear's profile is distinctive from that of his relative the black bear. The head of a grizzly bear is more flat than that of a black bear with a shorter muzzle.  The grizzlies' ears are shorter and rounder, and black bears will often climb trees, but adult grizzlies seldom climb. 

Grizzlies or black gear, can you tell what flavor of bear this is in the video?

Many people think of grizzlies as fierce carnivores, but they are actually omnivores.  As far as their diet is concerned, they're more like humans than other carnivores.  An omnivore eats other animals and plants (but all plants as we can't digest some grains or plants that don't produce fruit).  A grizzly will hunt for (or scavenge for dead meat [carrion]), and eat herbivores and other omnivores.  Grizzles have a hump between their shoulders that is composed of muscle, which permits them to be such strong diggers, which is how they spend the majority of their foraging time.

Got a bear problem?  If you share your piece of this planet with bears, grizzlies or black bears, you already know that it is imperative to manage your garbage properly.  Bears are attracted to the scent and will frequent a trash dump.  If they are successful in finding food, they will return daily and become less afraid of humans, and that isn't good.  When bears are not afraid of humans, people and bears get hurt.  People mistake their visitors as friendly and take chances getting close to the bears, which eventually results in someone getting mauled, bitten or worse.  The bears are usually captured and returned to the wild, sometimes 50 miles away from the encounter.  If they return, they are usually destroyed.  For this reason, it is in everyone's interest to make your garbage unavailable to bears.  If you have trash containers, the best way to do this is keep them inside or safeguard them with a bear-proof fence.  Go here to see how we built an inexpensive bear-proof fence.

Where they roam... In the NW United States, grizzly bears roam the Yellowstone and Glacier Park areas of Montana and western Wyoming.  Whereas black bears are found throughout North American forests and many of the swamps. Believe it or not, the Florida Everglades boasts one of the highest populations of black bears in America.  Learn what to do if you encounter a grizzly in the wild...



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