Grizzlies are normally a solitary active animal, but in coastal areas the grizzly congregates alongside streams, lakes, and rivers during the salmon spawn. Every other year, females (sows) produce one to four young (most commonly two) which are small and weigh only about 500 grams (one pound). A sow is very protective of her offspring and will attack if she thinks she is being threatened.
Grizzlies can be distinguished from most other brown bear subspecies by their proportionately longer claws and cranial profile which resembles that of the polar bear. Compared to other North American brown bear subspecies, a grizzly's pelt is silver tipped and is smaller in size. This size difference is due to the lesser availability of food in the grizzlies landlocked habitats. They are similar in size, color and behavior to the Siberian Brown Bear (Ursus arctos collaris).--Contributions/220.127.116.11 (18.104.22.168) 22:04, 9 October 2008 (UTC)
Brown bears (of which the grizzly bear is a subspecies) can live up to thirty years in the wild, though twenty to twenty-five is normal.
Although grizzlies are of the order Carnivora and have the digestive system of a carnivore, they are actually omnivores since their diet consists of both plants and animals. They have been known to prey on large mammals such as moose, deer, sheep, elk, bison, caribou and even black bears. Grizzly bears will feed on fish such as salmon, trout, and bass, and those with access to a more protein-enriched diet in coastal areas potentially grow larger than interior individuals. Grizzly bears will readily scavenge food, behavior that can lead them into conflict with other species, such as wolves and humans.
The grizzly bears that reside in the American northwest are not as large as Canadian or Alaskan sub-species. This is due, in part, to the richness of their diet which in Yellowstone consists of whitebark pine pine nuts, roots, tubers, grasses, various rodents, army cutworm moths and scavenged carcasses, none of which match the fat content of the salmon available in Alaska and British Columbia. During early spring, as the bears emerge from their dens, elk and bison calves are actively sought. The bear will move in a zig-zag pattern, nose to the ground, hoping to find unsuspecting animals to feed on.
In preparation for winter, bears will gain hundreds of kilograms of fat, during a period of hyperphagia, before going into a state of false hibernation. The bear will often wait for a substantial snowstorm before it enters its den. Presumably, this behavior lessens the chances that predators will be able to locate the den. The dens themselves are typically located at elevations above 6,000 feet on northern-facing slopes. There is some debate amongst professionals as to whether grizzly bears technically hibernate. Much of the debate revolves around body temperature and the ability of the bears to move around during hibernation on occasion. Grizzly bears have the ability to "partially" recycle their body wastes during this period. In some areas where food is plentiful year round, grizzly bears skip hibernation altogether.
Black bears generally stay out of grizzly territory but the grizzly may occasionally enter black bear terrain to obtain food sources both bears enjoy, such as pine nuts, acorns, and berries. When a black bear sees a grizzly coming it either turns tail and runs or climbs a tree. Black bears aren't really competition for prey because they have a more herbivorous diet than grizzlies. Confrontations are rare because of the difference in size, habitat, and diet of the bear species, but they do occur. When this happens it usually with the grizzly being the aggressor. The black bear will only fight when it is a smaller grizzly such as a yearling or when the black bear has no other choice but to defend itself. This usually results with the black bear's death.
Cougars however, generally give the bears a wide berth. Grizzlies have less competition with cougars than with other predators such as coyotes, wolves, and other bears. When a grizzly descends on a cougar feeding on its kill, the cougar usually gives way to the bear. When a cougar does stand its ground, the cougar will use its superior agility and its claws to harass the bear yet stay out of its reach until one of them gives up, usually the cat.
Coyotes, Foxes, and Wolverines are generally regarded as pests to the grizzlies rather than competition, though coyotes and wolverines may compete for smaller prey such as rabbits and deer. All three will try to scavenge whatever they can from the bears. Wolverines are aggressive enough to occasionally persist until the bear rambles on, leaving more than normal scraps for the smaller animal.
Grizzly bears normally avoid contact with people. In spite of their obvious physical advantages and many opportunities, they almost never view humans as prey. Even so, they can be extremely dangerous animals. Most grizzly bear attacks result from a bear that has been surprised at very close range, especially if it has a supply of food to protect, or female grizzlies protecting their offspring. In recent years, some grizzly bears appear to have learned to home in on the sound of hunters' gunshots in late fall as a source of potential food, and inattentive hunters have been attacked by bears trying to appropriate their kills.
It is imperative for all campers in areas inhabited by grizzly to maintain a clean campsite. Reports have indicated that something as innocuous as a tube of chapstick can entice a bear to come near a campsite in search of food. Any bear that is conditioned to finding food around campsites will almost always return and expect the same reward. The bear is then a threat to campers and itself, and park rangers may be forced to kill it. For backcountry campers, hanging food between trees at a height unreachable to bears is a common procedure, although some grizzlies can climb and reach hanging food in other ways. An alternative to hanging food is to use a bear canister.
Since most grizzlies prefer to avoid people, it is a good idea to make noise when traveling in dense brush or other places where visibility is limited. High pitched shouts or whistles will alert nearby bears and give them a chance to get out of the way. "Bear bells" are generally useless as their sound does not travel far.
Pepper-based bear sprays (containing at least 1% of the active ingredient capsaicin) have proven effective in deterring bears, both grizzly and black, that attacked after being surprised at close range. The spray causes instant irritation of exposed mucous membranes in the eyes, nose and mouth, and in the great majority of cases where it has been used, immediately diverts the bear. Whilst just the surprise of a sharp spray can deter the bear, this cannot be counted on. Combined with most people's inexperience with firearms, the practicality of the firearm at hand, where to hit a bear if possessing one, and the suddenness of the situation, recent research has shown that bear spray is significantly more effective than firearms. A further advantage of bear spray is that it leaves the bear alive and perhaps less likely to attack in the future. However, bear spray is far from guaranteed, as a bear will either ignore it , or as in attacks on groups of two or more, the bear will sometimes simply move on to the next person. Also, if the can is not 100% full or reaches its expiration date, it may prove ineffective.
In the event of a surprise attack that cannot be repelled, it is important not to make eye contact with the bear as eye contact can be seen as aggression. Adopt a submissive posture and remain still; often a charging grizzly will turn away at the last moment. Never run from a bear—uphill, downhill or into water. Grizzlies can outrun humans. Some say that climbing a tree can be a good defense, if there is time, as the long curved digging claws of a grizzly makes it hard for the bear to grip a tree and climb it. Others argue that climbing trees is not a good idea since many bears can and will climb up after you. If you do take to a tree, you should get at least two to three times as high as the bear can reach.
Where grizzlies do follow through on a charge and actually attack, they will usually bite at the head. The best defense is to lie prone, face down, legs spread to make it harder for the bear to flip you over, and hands gripped around the neck. Normally, once a grizzly is sure you are no longer a threat, it will leave. This is why most wildlife agencies in grizzly country advise that people play dead if attacked. Struggling or fighting back will almost certainly intensify and prolong the attack; at the same there's an existing advice to actually fight back.
Grizzlies are driven by the need to find high-calorie food, especially first thing in the spring after hibernation and from late August through to their hibernation season in November. For this reason, people who live in bear country or camp, hunt or hike there, are well-advised to ensure that nothing that might smell edible to a bear is left exposed, especially overnight. Food and garbage should be locked securely in a hard-bodied structure or double-wrapped in plastic bags and suspended from a line at least 10 feet from the ground in campsites.
When traveling in grizzly territory, hikers should be aware of their surroundings at all times, recognizing the signs of bear presence in the area. Fresh diggings can indicate a grizzly recently feeding on vegetation or hunting rodents. A grizzly track is unlike that of a black bear in that one can trace a single line from the innermost point on the left toe to the innermost point on the right toe without intersecting the pad of the foot. Claws are normally more than an inch from the end of the toe. Other signs include: talus slopes that appear raked, fallen logs which have been torn up, and high claw marks on trees. The smell of decomposing flesh is a danger sign, as bears will take possession of animal carcasses and defend these rich food supplies aggressively; hikers should always give a wide berth to any area where there is a strong odour. They can be very vicious.
On March 22, 2007, The US Federal Government stated that Grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park (Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem) no longer need Endangered Species Act protection. Several environmental organizations including the NRDC have since brought legal suit against the federal government to relist the grizzly bear.
Farther north, in Alberta, Canada, intense DNA hair-snagging studies on 2000 showed the grizzly population to be increasing faster than what it was formerly believed to be, and Alberta Sustainable Resource Development calculated a population of 841 bears. In 2002, the Endangered Species Conservation Committee recommended that the Alberta grizzly bear population be designated as Threatened due to recent estimates of grizzly bear mortality rates that indicated that the population was in decline. A recovery plan released by the Provincial government in March 2008 indicates that the grizzly population is lower than previously believed.. The Provincial government has so far resisted efforts to designate its declining population of about 700 grizzlies (previously estimated at as high as 842) as endangered.
Environment Canada consider the Grizzly bear to a "special concern" species, as it is particularly sensitive to human activities and natural threats. In Alberta and British Columbia, the species is considered to be at risk.
Recently the International Union for Conservation of Nature moved the Grizzly bear to "Lower Risk Least Concern" status on the IUCN Red List.
The Mexican Grizzly bear is extinct. .
|Alberta||575 to 660||750 to 841|
|BC||1,300 to 1,340||1,375 to 1,400|
|Yukon||6,300 to 6,300||6,300 to 6,350|
|NWT||5,050 to 5,065||5,080 to 5,100|
|Nunavut||900||950 to 1,000|
|Alb.nat.||205 to 215||185 to 193|
|Totals||14,330 to 14,480||14,640 to 14,884|
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