What are Brown Bears?

The brown bear (Ursus arctos), otherwise known as the grizzly bear is one of the largest North American land mammals and is a symbol of America's wild lands.

Historically the grizzly's bear range covered much of North America from the mid-plains westward to California and from central Mexico north throughout Alaska and Canada . In the present day, only 1 percent of its original range in the lower 48 states can grizzly bears be found.

Female grizzly bears need 50 to 300 square miles of home range and males need about 200 to 500 square miles. Their home range encompasses diverse forests interspersed with moist meadows and grasslands in or near mountains. In the spring, bears usually range at lower elevations and go to higher altitudes for winter hibernation.

What do Brown Bears look like?

Brown bears are larger than black bears with male grizzly bears standing about 7 feet tall and generally weighing from 200 to 600 pounds. There have been some male bears that have weighed more than 800 pounds. Females are smaller, usually weighing between 200 and 400 pounds. Generally remaining on all fours, when a grizzly does stand, it is commonly perceived to be a threatening pose however they are just simply curious or surveying their surroundings.

Despite being categorized as ‘black bears' and ‘brown bears' to make a distinction, color is never an indicator of species. Both black and brown bears can range from almost white to blonde to pure black and many color phases in between depending on age, sex and season.

The main differences between the black bear and brown bear, is that the brown bear has a rather concave face, high-humped shoulders, and long, curved claws. The grizzly's thick fur, which varies from light brown to nearly black, sometimes looks frosty-looking, hence the name "grizzly," or the less common "silvertip."

Furthermore, the grizzly has more rounded shorter ears.

Nevertheless, you cannot pin point one characteristic to distinguish between a grizzly and black bear, it is a combination of characteristics that will help you identify the bear specifically. Each may have a similar-colored coat, a less-than-concave face and small or large shoulder humps.