A symbol of the Canadian wilderness, the grizzly bear is fast becoming a “thing of the past” in regions where grizzly bears once reigned. Here are a seven facts about this magnificent animal.
1. Grizzly bear cubs will nurse for up to three years. Depending on when a grizzly mother bear wants to wean her cubs, a decision often made when she decides it’s time to mate again, she will keep producing milk for up to three years. However, grizzly cubs begin eating solid food from an early age and can very quickly become not dependent on mama’s milk.
2. Adult grizzly bears can be surprisingly small. The classic grizzly bear image of a massive golden brown bear is a reality, yet, on the eastern slopes of the Alberta Rookies for example, a mature grizzly bear can be as little as 250lbs in the spring, smaller than area black bears!
3. Grizzly front claws can be up to 4-inches in length, claws as long as human fingers! It is highly advisable you avoid these.
4. The grizzly bear hump is actually a large muscle. The most identifiable trait of a grizzly bear is the large hump on their shoulders, a powerful muscle they use to power their forelimbs through their daily routine. Grizzlies, known to dig more than any other bear species, spend inordinate amounts of time ripping through the earth and tearing apart rotted logs in search of roots, plant bulbs, insects, rodents, and other grubs. Their massive hump is also the muscle powering them as they dig out winter dens, often in steep and rocky mountain terrain.
5. The grizzly population is estimated at 50,000 animals in North America, with only about 1200 grizzly bears found in the lower-48 of the United States. British Columbia, western Alberta, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Alaska is the major distribution of North American grizzly bears. There are also 100,000 grizzly bears estimated to live in the former Soviet Union.
6. Grizzly bears may intake up to 90lbs of food each day. That’s like 360 quarter pounders from McDonalds. Whoa. (Of course, ¼ pounders are the last thing we want grizzlies to eat and – for that matter – how about we just stop putting fast food chains anywhere near grizzly habitat?).
7. Grizzly bear populations have been drastically reduced by hunting, logging, development, and mining. Yet, in Canada, grizzly bears are still legally hunted for trophy – a travesty when their population demise is well documented!
To learn more about the North American grizzly bear, stay tuned for an upcoming interview with grizzly bear expert Jeff Gailus, author of “The Grizzly Manifesto” and the David Suzuki Foundation’s “Securing a National Treasure: Protecting Canada’s Grizzly Bear.”