by Laney Stanford
The grizzly has suffered with rumors of its evil nature, such as being accused of hugging its victims to death, and preferring to have a meal of mules to its other food choices. This carnivorous bear prefers to dine on larger prey, but will hunt for ground squirrels and gophers when needed.
Photo from Defenders of Wildlife. Contact for the Adopt-a-Grizzly Bear program. Click the bear photo to go to Defenders of Wildlife
The grizzly bear has a special place in the history of the North American Continent. It was hunted by Indian warriors, attacking with bows and arrows, and even today the public views the grizzly as the spirit of danger in the kingdom of wildlife.
The grizzly's scientific name is Ursus horribilis Ord. It has been called the silver-tip bear. It is one of the largest in the bear family having a powerful build. The toes on each foot has long claws, but the claws on the front foot are longest. The tail is short, the ears are rounded, and coloring is dark, usually a deep brown color with a white tipping on the ends of the fur.
The male grizzly may be as tall as eight to nine feet, weighing from 600 to 800 pounds, while the female is only slightly smaller, weighing around 500 pounds. The grizzly makes its home from Wyoming to Alaska within the Rocky Mountains. This carnivorous bear prefers to dine on larger prey, but will hunt for ground squirrels and gophers when needed.
There are several species of the grizzly bear. They are closely related to the Big Brown Bear of the North, but no two authorities can decide what the exact status of the bears is to be. The grizzlies vary in size and color with differences in the head structure. The grizzly habitats overlap with the region of the Big Brown Bears. The grizzly relations are the silver-tip, the Sonora, the Californian, and the Alaskan grizzlies.
The grizzly has suffered with rumors of its evil nature, such as being accused of hugging its victims to death, and preferring to have a meal of mules to other food choices. The grizzly has been observed climbing fruit trees and stripping whole branches of the fruit with its claws (and paws), and having dessert in the form of a lizard or toad.
In general the feeding habits of the grizzly will vary with its environment. If elk are abundant, the grizzly chooses this menu, but in the region of the Clearwater Mountains of Idaho, the grizzly feeds on grass, salmon, ants, grub, and larvae.
The grizzly bear mating season in the Northwest is from the middle of June to August, with hibernation around November. As every rule has its exception, so to does this differ in time according to the region of the grizzly.
Mother bears will usually give birth to two or three cubs, but there have been times when four cubs have been born. The cubs are born in their mother's winter den, and mother takes up much of the space. The mother is called a dam, and one to two weeks after the males leave for their winter dens, she and her cubs leave their den. The grizzly has a strange habit of scoring trees with their teeth, and will often bite large chunks from the tree trunk. There is no clear reason for this action.
When considering the nature of the grizzly, many factors need to be taken into account. If you are traveling to a park area or region with a grizzly population, consult the local park management on ways to avoid the grizzly, or on ways to stay out of the path of the grizzly. Inherently evil is not the nature of the grizzly, but, as with all animals, invasion and threatening of one's personal space is not easily tolerated.
1. Editors. The World Book Encyclopedia. World Book-Childcraft International, Inc: Chicago. 1990
Grizzly Bears - National Wildlife Federation
One of the nation's most beautiful and imposing creatures, the powerful, reclusive grizzly bear is, to many, a symbol of the American wilderness.
Defenders of Wildlife - Grizzly Bear
Grizzly bear fact sheet on diet, habitat, and environment. Adopt a grizzly bear!