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Test your bear smarts

Can you tell the difference between a grizzly and a black bear? Take the quiz below.



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Oops, you misidentified some bears. SCROLL UP to review your answers to get a bit more direction and help you learn to identify the key characteristics that distinguish black bears from grizzlies. Go may want to go back and review this section again. You can try the quiz as many times as you like. It’s all good practice; and better at your computer than in the field!

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#1. Is this a grizzly or a brown-phased black bear? ? Good clues are the profile of the back: what is the highest point – hump or rump? What do the ears and snout indicate? Claws?

This is a grizzly. Note the length of the laws; they are much longer than a black bear’s. This bear has very grizzled fur, a prominent snout, deep set eyes, and relatively small ears.

#2. Which species is this? ? Colour may not be that helpful in determining the species. Is that a hump? What do the ears indicate?

This is a cinammon coloured black bear. His fur on his shoulder is a bit ruffled from the breeze, but his rump is the highest point on his body. He has big ears too!

#3. Which species are these? ? Sometimes it helps to see more than one bear together, like this mother and her young. What is the highest point on the back – hump or rump? Can we see the claws – are they long or short? Are the ears big or small? Is the snout prominent? Are the eyes deep set or do they appear further apart?

This is a mother grizzly with her young. The claws are a dead give-away. Did you notice them? Her hump is also quite prominent, as is her muzzle and deep set eyes. But the claws, when you can see them like this, make your ID certain.

#4. Which species is this? ? Is this bear molting? Or is the long fur indicative of a darker coloured grizzly bear? What does the snout and facial profile tell us? Ears? Can we see how long the claws are?

This is a molting black bear. Rump is highest point on body. Big ears. No visible long claws. The face is very dog-like in appearance; a good clue too! It’s interesting to note the bald patch on her side. This is as a result of much mating activity; the male places his paws there during mating and has worn off the fur. Oh my!

#5. Which species is this? ? Colour is not helpful this time. Size doesn’t tell us much either. What about the face profile? Nose? Claws? Ears?

That is a big black bear! The colour might trick you. But, check out the short claws and big ears. The rump is also the highest point on his body.

#6. Which species is this? ? Young bears are tough to distinguish. Is this a cinnamon-phase black bear? Are the ears small like a grizzly’s? Don’t forget that young bears haven’t necessarily grown into their ears yet. Is the snout prominent and blunt at the end? Does the bear have a straight facial profile? Good luck! This one is hard.

This grizzly is a tricky one to identify. He is still fairly young; perhaps his first year without his mom. HIs ears are smallish and the snout is bigger than a black bear’s. What you don’t know from just looking at the photo is that he is in an area frequented by grizzlies. In real life, this would help you ID the bear. He is fishing for salmon.

#7. Which species is this? ? This one may seem quite obvious. Is the black colour always indicative of a black bear? We can’t see the claws, so that’s not helpful. What about the ears, eyes and muzzle? What’s the highest point on the bear’s back?

This bear looks pretty typical of his species: a black bear. Rump is highest point on body. He has big ears, His eyes are set further apart and his muzzle is not as big as a grizzlie’s would be.

#8. Is this a black bear or a trick? You tell us.

Another typical black bear. Rump is highest point on body. He has a Roman nose profile. Big ears. Short claws.

#9. Which species is this? ? This bear looks pretty typical of her species. Or is this a trick too? We should look at the ears, face shape, muzzle and of course the hump vs the rump. If those aren’t enough clues: what does the lighter coloured collar around the shoulder area tell us?

Such a beautiful grizzly gal. Very fuzzy fur, with a lighter coloured collar around the shoulder. A hump. Prominent muzzle, deep set eyes and relatively small ears.

#10. Which species is this? ? Sometimes we don’t get to see the bear’s full body. S/he might be behind a tree. Can you tell just from the face whether this is a grizzly or black bear? The ears are quite large. Is it a brown-phased black bear? Is the snout prominent like a grizzly’s? Is the fur fuzzy and longer like a grizzly’s or shorter and flatter against the body like a black bear’s?

This grizzly can be identified by the prominent muzzle and deep set eyes that are much closer together than a black bear’s. Also her fur is much fuzzier and longer than the smooth shorter fur of a black bear.

#11. Which species is this? ? Is this a black bear with a chest patch? Or a dark coloured grizzly? It’s a bigger bear; does the size lead us to determine this is a grizzly? What about the ears and the muzzle? Do those help us identify the species?

This black bear is a bit of a bruiser! But weight alone won’t help ID this fella. His chest patch though is very typical of black bears. Big ears, eyes are further apart than a grizzly and his snout is not that prominent in comparison.

#12. Which species is this? ? Q12: Lighting isn’t always great. Much of this bear is in the shade, but there are some key distinguishing characteristics visible. Look specifically at the ears, eyes and muzzle. Do grizzly bears have a chest patch?

Another black bear. Quite shaded… but his ears and chest patch are tell-tale signs. The eyes are set apart and the snout is short.

#13. Which species is this? ? That’s a bruiser. Size is not much help identifying this bear. Is that a hump? Or is the rump the highest point on the body. Is that a dish-shaped facial profile? Are the ears more dog-like than a grizzly’s? Colour is not that helpful either. S/he looks pretty brown in colour.

Another bruiser of a black bear. It almost looks like he has a hump. But, he has big ears, a smaller snout and eyes that are set further apart than a grizzly.

#14. Which species is this? ? Nice smile! A very feminine face; looks like a girl for sure. But, is this a grizzly or a cinnamon black bear? Biggish ears. They are a bit fuzzy though. Prominent muzzle or a straighter face profile?

I love this girl’s smile! She has small ears, fuzzy fur and a prominent snout.

#15. Which species is this? ? A lovely brown coloured bear. Check out the claws. Can grizzlies climb? You bet’chya. Is that a hump? What about those ears, muzzle and eyes; those are telling signs.

A brown-phased black bear. She has really big ears and very short claws. Two precise identifying characteristics. She also has a small snout and her eyes are set further apart than a grizzly’s.