Return to the Wild - Evolving perspectives on Canadian wildlife
The grizzly bear's range covers large portions of northwestern Canada and Alaska.

Did you know?

The grizzly bear is the second largest land carnivore in North America.

Scientific name: Ursus arctos horribilis
Average weight: 250 kg–350 kg (male)
125 kg–175 kg (female)
Average height: 1 m (on all fours)
Average length: 1.8 m
Average lifespan: 15-25 years
A grizzly bear stares out from the British Columbia forest floor.

Canadian Geographic articles

The Grizzly Bear

By A.M. Pearson
April 1972

Written in 1972, A.M. Pearson’s article on the grizzly bear shines with his fascination for the great omnivore of North America.

The grizzly is a purely North American term, and this bear belongs to the brown bear family, which has members in Russia and Japan, among others. More interesting than this, there are delineations between geographic populations of the bear on this continent, called ecotypes (they’re not genetically separated enough to be called separate species). This allows the bear to be separated into six different populations, including the northern interior grizzly, most famous for its large size (up to 544 kg!).

Tracing the seasonal habits of bears, Pearson describes the grizzly as an omnivorous creature, living off of scavenged berries and other edible plants as well as small animals during the summer and sleeping for the winter. Females, while hibernating, give birth to their cubs. With great attention to detail, the full life cycle and habits of the grizzly are supplemented with pictures of the author and summer students measuring weights, tagging and tracking the bears.

Scientific in nature, the article’s overall aim is to demystify the grizzly as a fearsome beast. Pearson’s curiosity allows him to show the bears as great creatures of North America, our last living megafauna on this continent. His concern for the future of the bears is voiced at the end of the article and, though written over thirty years ago, has great relevance today.

Hungry as a bear

By Stephen J. Krasemann
December 2008

Focussing on the fall feast of grizzlies on the salmon of the Fishing Branch tributary, Stephen J. Krasemann writes about his experiences while photographing the annual convergence of up to 50 bears on a tributary.

Located near the Arctic Circle, Fishing Branch (which eventually joins two other tributaries to form Porcupine River) is inundated with spawning salmon every fall that swim up from the Pacific Ocean. Fortunately, the bears have figured this out, and just before they go down for their long winter nap, they enjoy a pre-hibernation meal of fish.

This is not to say they are the only animals that benefit from the salmon, either. The writer describes watching wolves, bald eagles, martens and other carnivores fish in the tributary as well. 

The article is supplemented with beautiful pictures of the bears, birds and the landscape.

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