Grizzly Bear Facts

  • The great hump behind a grizzly’s head is solid muscle, enabling it to overturn 50-kg rocks with its front paws, or kill an elk with a single blow.
  • During its winter sleep the grizzly loses about 1 kg of bodyweight each day. Some grizzlies emerge from their sleep 50% lighter.
  • Grizzlies once ranged across the USA, with numbers as high as 50,000-100,000; but as their terrain has been taken over by humans, their numbers have fallen to 6000-8000.
  • Most grizzlies are dark brown in color, but regional coloring ranges from black to very pale yellow.
  • Despite their great size, grizzlies are nimble enough to catch squirrels and mice, and can reach a speed of over 55 km/h when charging.
  • Native Americans had great respect for the grizzly, and apologized before killing it, sometimes laying out ceremonial clothes for it to wear when it entered the spirit world. Mammals
  • Grizzlies are immensely strong. They have been known to bite through cast iron, bend rifle barrels, and open up cars like sardine cans in search of food.
  • Originating in China, the ancestors of the modern grizzly crossed land bridges from Asia to North America some 40,000 years ago.
  • Grizzlies often enter their winter dens just ahead of a snowstorm, so that the snow covers up their fresh tracks and seals them in for their long winter sleep.
  • Alaskan grizzlies feed heavily on migrating salmon.
  • Grizzly mothers give birth to their cubs in their dens in winter, and go on to look after them for anything up to a further 4- 5 years. During these early years their mothers teach them to forage and hunt and protect them from predators.
  • The huge Kodiak grizzly bear of the Alaskan coastal islands can reach a height of 3 m on its hind legs, and weigh up to 1500 pounds.