They walk flat footed like man and have 32 to 42 teeth, depending on the species, consisting of molars, incisors and 4 canines in front. The Brown or Grizzly and Black Bear is an omnivore, which means they can survive on plants and/or vegetation. They all live between 20 to 25 years for the Black, 25 to 30 years for the Brown and Polar. On the average. Where as they will live about 10 to 15 years longer in captivity. They are not susceptible to diseases like other animals. Just common parasites such as worms and ear mites. Other parasites are nonexistent because of an oily secretion that they put out on their skin. There hasn't even been any record of a Bear infected with rabies. I believe them to be ammune to this infection, therefore, rabies vaccinations are not required on captive Bears. A Bears anatomy is so different than other species, such as they can eat things that would make other species sick or even die. They are not true hibernators such as the ground hog or squirrel. They will go into their dens and sleep but come out to stretch and search for food under the snow a few times for very short periods at a time and never venturing far from the den. Only the female bearing cubs will stay in the den all winter. While in the den, Bears will not secrete or eliminate at all. The dens remain very clean. The male Bear is a loner. He prefers not to come in contact with others of his kind except during breeding season and late summer fishing in which he will tolerate other Bears nearby. During breeding season which is usually May and June, he will set out in search of a female. Upon finding her, there are usually other males in the vicinity. The males will confront each other, using phycological gestures, making woofing and popping noises, trying to bluff the other male off. When this doesn't work, they will come into physical contact, known as sparing. Only the dominate male will breed the female. This breeding can last for several weeks and each session being up to seven hours at a time. Once she has conceived, the embryo will stay in a dormant state until October to November. It will then develop in to a fetus. The gestation period from conceived until birth is approx. 210 days. The actual development of the fetus is only from 13 to 17 weeks, depending on how many cubs she is carrying. She will give birth to one to three cubs, by usually two, between early January to mid February. When born they are hairless and blind. They will weigh between 8 and 18 ounces. When they emerge from the den, they will weigh between 20 to 30 lbs. They will stay with her, growing and learning how to survive from her for the next two winters. The following April, she will run them off to fend for themselves. She will only then be ready to breed again.
The Modern Day Bears of North America
30 Million years ago a small carnivorous animal began to evolve into a Bear. This slow evolvement kept progressing until 8 million years ago, in which the Giant Panda began to appear. Another 2 million years pass and the first Bears classified as (Ursus), began to appear. The modern Bear began to appear about 2.5 millions years ago. Though they still were not like the Bears that we are familiar with today. They started to spread throughout Europe and Asia. Approximately 1.3 million years ago another 3 species of Bears appeared. The first being the Giant Short Faced Bear, (Arctodus Simus). This Bear was short coupled, lightly built and had long legs which enabled him to run at great speed to catch prey. This Bear ranged throughout North and South America. The second species was the Cave Bear (Ursus Spealaeus). This Bear was not as large as his cousin and many have mistaken this Bear as being the Giant Killer of the Ice Age, even though he was known as the most famous of the era. Last but not least the Grizzly or Brown Bear, (Ursrs Arctos), appeared, but not in the America's as of yet, though there were some small species of Bears in addition to Arctodus Simus and the Florida species of the Cave Bear at the time in the Americas. Ursus Arctos ranged in Europe and Asia. To use as a referral point of how old these species are, it is believed that humans did not develop fire until 700,000 years ago. During this time is when the Ursus Arctos species who also inhabited the Northern Asian continent now known as Russia began to evolve into the Polar Bear. These Brown and Polar Bears crossed a land bridge into North America about 50,000 years ago. 15,000 years ago, humans began to cross into North America. They encountered the Giant Short Faced Bear whom fed on humans. This land bridge that was crossed is now known as the Bering Straits, which separate Russia and Alaska. During the end of the Ice Age, about 10,000 years ago, is when Arctodus Simus and Ursus Spealaeus became extinct. It is believed that the Spectical Bear (Ursus Tremarctos), of South America, evolved from the Giant Short Faced Bear. The Spectical Bear also became what is known as a herbivore, (plant eater). Many fossils have been found of these two extinct Bears. As a result of these findings, man was able to determine their range. They had also come to find that the Cave Bear fossils were mainly found in their caves, with very few fossils out side.
Range of the North American Black Bear
The North American Black Bear
This Bear ranges throughout the North American continent as shown on the map. There are approx. 700,000. They are very uncommon in Mexico. Extremely rare from Texas and north to North Dakota, and south east to Florida. Other states have populations under 10,000 in each state. The exceptions are California and Montana which have populations between 10,000 and 15,000 each. Alaska is inhabited by approx. 50,000, with the rest of the population in Canada. The bulk of them are in Alberta and British Columbia, with over 100,000 each. This Bear will range from 90 lbs to 400 lbs. and stand about 5 to 6 feet tall. They have been recorded at over 600 lbs. and over 8 feet tall. The larger Bears live in the north, where as the smaller ones in the south, such as in Louisiana and Florida. Sometimes referred to as Swamp Bears. They have short, sharp, hooked claws, which enables them to climb trees, even during adulthood. The Bear will vary in color from a golden brown to black, with 2 exceptions. These other 2 types of Black Bears are classified under a different sub-species.
The Kermode Bear, known as the White Black Bear or Spirit Bear.
(Ursus Americanus Kermodei)
This Bear lives on Princess Royal Island, off the west coast of British Columbia. They are not albino's and in every way except for their color, are exactly the same as their black cousins. They are highly protected by The Canadian Wildlife Management Authority. There are only 150 of this species. Only 2 are not on the island. These 2 are residents of the Vancouver Zoo.
The Glacier Bear, also known as the Blue Bear.
(Ursus Americanus Emmonsi)
This Bear ranges in Canada and Alaska. They are so rare that there are no recorded numbers of how many there are. I have known of only 2. I believe that this Bear is not really a true Black Bear. One of these Bears, I obtained from a park in Canada. It was captive born. Her mother, known as a (sow), was a blonde colored Grizzly and her father, known as a (boar), was a Cinnamon colored Black Bear. She had been classified as a hybrid when I got her. Through my research, she is a Glacier Bear. The Glacier Bear has the hump on the shoulders but not quite as predominate as on the Grizzly. They also have the long claws and temperament of the Grizzly. All of their other features are the same as the Black Bear. I concluded my findings upon seeing a male Glacier Bear, who was temporarily residing at the Evansville Zoo. This Bear belonged to the San Diego Zoo and was in Evansville while the new facility at San Diego was being built for him. This Bear had exactly the same features as my Bear. The information I found on him came from the Zoo in Evansville. As to my findings, the Glacier Bear is morel likely to be a cross between the Grizzly and Black Bear. If my research is actually true and correct then the reason of why this species is so rare, is that the Black Bear tends to avoid the larger Grizzly.
Range of the Kermode Bear
Range of the Alaskan Brown Bear
The Alaskan Brown Bear
This Bear ranges from Norton Sound to Nelson Island. Possibly Nunivak Island also. From there, down to Naknek and as far west as Fox Island. From that point, down to Glacier Bay which is in the Northern Peninsula. From there, back up thru the southwest corner of the Yukon Territory and back east to Norton Sound, with his area covering just above Denal National Park. The largest population density is in Katmai National Park which is on the main land just across from Kodiak Island and 250 miles southeast of Anchorage. Katmai was established as a national park in 1980. It covers over 4 million acres. It contains Novarupta, which is a 6,716 foot high volcano. One of 50 active volcano's in Alaska. It erupted in 1912 and created what is now known as The Valley of 10,000 Smokes. It is impossible to get an estimate of how many there actually are since most people can not tell the difference of the Alaskan Brown and the Grizzly, who both inhabit the same area. The main difference is their size. The Alaskan Brown will weigh between 800 and 1200 lbs.
He will stand between 8 and 9 feet tall.
The North American Grizzly Bear
(Ursus Arctos Horribilis)
As I said before, the Grizzly inhabits the same area as his larger cousin, but he also inhabits other parts of North America. This area includes 100 miles north of the Brown Bears range in Alaska, across the southern two thirds of the Yukon Territory, to just north of Great Bear Lake, down to Relliance to Fort Resolution in the North West Territories. All of Alberta and British Columbia, with the exception of the Vancouver area. The western one fifth of Saskatchewan. From Cut-Bank to Missoula in Montana and across to Coeur d' Alene Idaho. Also extreme northern Washington state. They also inhabit a few pocket areas in the lower 48 states. In northwest California near Eureka up to the southern coastal area of Oregon. Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. They are very few who inhabit a pocket east of Salt Lake City Utah, thru Evanston and Rock Springs Wyoming, to Hot Sulfer Springs, Aspen and Grand Junction Colorado and back towards Provo Utah.
The population numbers include the Grizzly, Alaskan Brown and Kodiak as one entire population. There are approx. 50,000 in all. Scarcely 900 in the lower 48 states. The Grizzly will weigh in from 500 to 700 lbs. Some have been recorded larger. Standing at 6 to 7 feet on the average. The difference of these Bears compared to the Black Bear, other than their size, fur and color is they have long tapering claws. They are unable like the Black Bear to climb trees once they become adult Bears, but the advantage of their claws is they are much more powerful at digging. They also have a hump on their shoulders and not as timid in nature. Yet they are still omnivores. The Grizzly got his scientific name, Ursus Horribilis from the Latin word meaning Horrible Bear. He acquired this name when the settlers started moving west. As the Indian and White man wars began and continued, many of both sides were killed. Too many to bury. The Grizzly began feeding on the human remains and found man to be easy prey. They began to attack man. Hence forth their new name. The Grizzly was then hunted and killed in sport. During the ranchero days of southern California, man had Bear and Bull fights. In the early 1900's, the last Grizzly was killed in southern California. The 1940's, the last in Arizona, and in 1957 the last in New Mexico. They became almost extinct in the Lower 48 states. Barely 50 in the mid 1960's. There are two maps showing the Grizzly's past and present ranges. From the pre-1800 map, there may have been a few pockets of inhabitants east of the map range.
The Kodiak Bear
(Ursus Arctos Middendorffi)
This Bear Lives strictly on Kodiak Island. He is the largest of all modern day Bears. Standing at 9 to 10 feet and weighing 900 to 1350 lbs. Yet several have been recorded at over 13 feet and in excess of 1700 lbs. Since man has been moving onto the island and building resorts and airports, creating skepticism and unapproved by the local natives. Most of the Bears have been pushed to the southwest part of the island, known as Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. The area is 8,974 square miles. There were 3 major devastations to the island, which almost destroyed the species. Two earthquakes at sea creating a tsunami (title wave) that hit Kodiak Island. One in 1792 and the other in 1964. Also Novarupta, when it exploded in 1912 sent the ash raining down on the Island. There are now almost 7,000 people in the town of Kodiak alone, which is located on the northeast edge of the Island.
Range of the North American Grizzly (pre-1800)
Range of the North American Grizzly (present day)
Range of the Kodiak Bear
Range of the North American Polar Bear
The Polar Bear
This Bear inhabits the extreme Arctic circle on the permanent ice and the tundra from eastern and western Greenland, New Foundland, Quebec, Ontario, Nunavut, Northwest Territory, Yukon Territory and Alaska. They are the largest mammal classified as a carnivore, which means, he must eat meat to survive. They will stand from 7 to 8 feet and weight 900 to 1000 lbs. but have been found at 11 feet and 1600 lbs. There are 15,000 in Canada, 2000 in Alaska. In the entire world, 26,000 in all. They have webbed feet, a thick layer of fat and hollow hair, which is from a yellowish to white in color. This makes them buoyant and protects them from the icy waters. They can swim at 6 m.p.h. up to a distance of 60 miles at a time. They can also jump up to 8 feet out of the water. Their hearing is not quite as acute as other species, but they have excellent eye sight. This enables them to hunt in the twilight and darkness. Their diet consists mainly of seal, but have brought down a few walrus from time to time. Some of them live around Hudson Bay, where they will travel on sheets of ice that break off in the early summer and float across it. They will then migrate reaching the town of Churchill in October. Recently, this town has developed into a major tourist area, where people come to watch them. In some cases, the problem Bears are tranquilized and transported away from the area.
Man in Bear Country
Many like to go into Bear country to see the Bears in the wild, not knowing the possible dangers or what to do when a bear is near. Each North American species reacts differently. The Bear can turn from docile to aggressive and back again within seconds. When in Bear country. The following techniques should be used when in their vicinity. The Black Bear. Timid by nature but can be extremely aggressive when approached. Make your self known. Appear larger by raising your hands and make a lot of noise. If attacked, you will probably have to fight for your life, using a stick or rock or anything else you can find. The Black Bear will not give up until he is beaten in the battle or to the very end of either his life or yours. Never run. Bears can reach 35 m.p.h. in short bursts and average about 12 m.p.h. which is faster than man. You can not out climb them either. They are extremely intelligent and able to learn fast. If trained when young, then can co-exist in mans presence and be quite docile for the most part, but can be aggressive if provoked or mistreated. The same rules apply to the Grizzly and Brown Bears, with one exception, your best defense if attacked is to play dead, face down, try to protect your face and abdomen. The Bear will still bite and roll you over. Use the momentum to continue to roll back to face down position. If the Bear perceives that the threat is gone, he will usually leave the area. If you see a dead carcass of an animal, the Bear may have been feeding on it and is nearby. He will attack if you venture near his food supply, so stay away by back tracking. Never go near a mother with cubs. This is the most dangerous encounter there is and most Bear attacks are caused by her feeling her cubs are in danger. Look for signs while in Bear country. Claw marks and hair on tree bark, which shows his territory. Broken twigs on bushes, tracks and feces. Last but not least, the Polar Bear. There is no recourse for you if you encounter one while on foot. You're his dinner and that's all there is to it.
More Information on Bears through out the World
If you are interested in more about Bears, I would highly recommend 2 books written by Gary Brown. He had consulted with me for part of his research of Bears in captivity along with many other references to complete this book. Gary Brown was a Chief Ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park, Denali National Park and also Yellowstone. Including being a Bear Management Specialist. My last knowledge of Gary is he is a consultant for Bear Management, residing in Bozeman Montana, near the new Grizzly Encounter Wildlife Park.
One book is titled, "Safe Travel in Bear Country". and the other, I consider as the Bear Bible, entitled. "The Great Bear Almanac".
We carry many of these informational books in our store.
Here you will find many interesting facts on the Bear. How it evolved. How it came to the American Continent. It's Conflict with Man. It's Range, both past and present. Some survival facts and techniques for those who venture into Bear Country.