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April 21, 2018  |  Login

Brown Bear
Ursus arctos

What Are They Like?

The brown bear is the largest carnivore in the world that lives on land. There are many subspecies throughout the world, including the grizzly in North America, the Kodiak, the Eurasian brown bear and the Siberian brown bear.  Its lifespan is typically about 25 years in the wild, though it can live longer in captivity. Brown bears vary widely in size and can measure between 6.5-9.75 feet (2-3 meters) in length. They can weigh between 220 and 2,200 pounds (100-1,000 kilograms).

Where Do They Live?

Brown bears are the most widely distributed of all bears on Earth, and are most often found in Russia and colder areas of North America such as Canada and Alaska. The size of brown bears varies widely based on habitat.

Did You Know?
Brown bears have super-strong shoulder muscles to help them dig up roots and tear apart logs to find food, giving them a distinctive shoulder hump.

How Are Babies Made?

The female brown bear's fertilized egg divides and floats freely in the uterus for six months, in a process called delayed implantation. Then, during hibernation, the embryo attaches to the uterine wall. Implantation will not occur, however, if the female doesn't have enough fat stores to get her through the winter. Females give birth to one-pound (.5 kilogram) cubs while sleeping, after only an eight-week gestation period. They give birth to litters of one to four cubs, usually two. Females take on the full responsibility of raising cubs, living together for two to four years. Males are often hostile to cubs, killing them and sometimes eating them

What Do They Eat?

Brown bears are true omnivores. They eat meat when it is available, though plants make up about 90% of their diet, depending on the region they inhabit. They have large paws and long claws to help them dig for roots and bulbs as well as attack their prey. They eat berries, grasses, fungi, insects and sprouts, as well as large animals such as caribou, deer and even moose. Brown bears are very comfortable in water and spend long periods of time under waterfalls and in rivers where they catch salmon - a major source of protein.

Did You Know?
Females hibernate all winter, not even waking up to give birth. The cubs find their way to their mother’s teats and nurse and sleep until the mother bear awakens in the spring.

What Do They Do?

Brown bears can be very dangerous due to their size and slightly aggressive tendencies; however, they mostly avoid humans. They have a very good sense of smell, but poor eyesight and hearing, which is reflected in their large snouts and smaller eyes and ears. Brown bears generally move fairly slowly, though they have the capacity to run fast, and are good climbers.

How Concerned Should We Be?

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which keeps a "Red List" of species in danger worldwide, lists the brown bear as "least concern." This classification comes from the fact that the brown bear is still found widely and its population is not in serious decline. However, the population has decreased regionally in certain places, and certain subspecies are of more concern than others.

What's Being Done?

While not currently in danger of extinction, the brown bear is nonetheless in need of preservation efforts, particularly with regard to hunting and habitat destruction.


Alaskan Brown Bear Trapped

Brown Bear Hunts for Fish

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