Grizzly Bears

The Grizzly Bear … Always Deadly and Dangerous

Everyone has heard about the Grizzly Bear and most people know that this animal can be lethal. Also known as “the silvertip bear,” the Grizzly is actually a subspecies of the Brown Bear and lives primarily in western North America.

This bear, which can weigh anywhere from just 300 pounds up to as much as 1,200 pounds and even more (adult females weigh a little less), is a direct descendant of an ancient species of bear known as the ussuri brown bear and actually crossed into Alaska from areas in eastern Europe about 100,000 years ago. There are, of course, many Grizzly Bears living and thriving in Alaska today, but large numbers of this species traveled from Alaska to the area that is now the western United States about 13,000 years ago and are still there today.

Grizzly Bears tend to be solitary creatures that like to live in coastal areas near streams, lakes, rivers and other waterways. This close proximity to water allows them to feed on salmon during their spawning season and on trout and bass, as well. But fish make up only a small part of the Grizzly Bear diet.

The animal has always been thought of as a carnivore and it does prey on many animals, including deer … moose … sheep … elk … bison … caribou … even smaller black bears. Grizzlies, however, are actually omnivores. That means they eat meat and plants. In fact, the diet of the Grizzly Bear consists of about 80% to 90% natural vegetation while the rest of its food is live prey. Grizzly Bears also eat “carrion,” dead animals that they did not kill.

Grizzly Bears The bear’s name, “grizzly” is thought to have come from the fact that its coat has “grizzled” or gray hairs. Its coloring varies, from white to almost-black with many, many shades in between. Don’t confuse this grizzled appearance with that of a mangy dog.  While bears are susceptible to mites and ticks, their fur is much thicker than dogs and less affected by them.

Here’s something else you need to know: Grizzly Bears are extremely aggressive animals. It should come as no surprise to learn that Grizzly Bears have, on occasion, attacked and even killed human beings. In some of the more gruesome cases, the bears have even consumed their human prey. So it’s obviously a good idea – a very good idea – to avoid Grizzlies when out in the wild.

Their aggressiveness can put you at great peril. The truth is that Grizzlies are even more aggressive and, as a result, more dangerous than the dreaded Polar Bear. There have been many documented instances where the Grizzly, upon encountering a Polar Bear, has “won the day and forced the huge white bear to flee.

It seems fair to say that if you want to get a close-up look at a Grizzly Bear, there is only one safe place where you can do it – at the zoo. Plan a day trip to the zoo nearest you today. If you have kids, bring them along with you. A day at the zoo for youngsters can be both entertaining and educational. That makes it worthwhile.

Grizzly Bear Information Center