Grizzly Bear

(Ursus arctos horribilis)

Grizzly Bear


Despite its large size, the grizzly can reach speeds of 35 to 40 miles per hour.


Threatened in most areas of the lower 48 states.

Status of the Greater Yellowstone Grizzly:

In March 2007 the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced it will change the status of the Greater Yellowstone grizzly. The bears will be removed from the list of species protected by the Endangered Species Act. The change takes effect at the end of April 2007. When the proposed change is made official, these bears will no longer be protected by federal law. Instead they will be managed according to state law. In national parks, the National Park Service will manage the bears. Hunting the Greater Yellowstone Grizzly will not be permitted in national parks.


Approximately 850 bears exist in the lower 48 states. There are about 30,000 grizzly bears in Alaska.


Threats to the survival of the grizzly bear include habitat destruction caused by logging, mining and human development and illegal poaching (illegal killings).


Grizzlies can live up to 30 years in the wild.

The grizzly's distinctive features include humped shoulders, a long snout, long curved claws and a grayish, silvery back. They can weigh anywhere from 350 to 800 pounds and reach a shoulder height of 4.5 feet when on all fours. Standing on its hind legs, a grizzly can reach up to 8 feet.

Grizzlies prefer rugged mountains and forests undisturbed by human encroachment. They can be found today in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Alaska, and Canada.

Some of a grizzly's favorite foods include nuts, berries, insects, salmon, carrion and small mammals. The diet of a grizzly varies depending on the season and habitat. Grizzlies in areas of Alaska eat primarily salmon, while grizzlies in high mountain areas eat mostly berries and insects.

Bears hibernate during the winter, usually digging their own dens with their claws. They will often choose the side of a slope where snow collects, providing good insulation. Grizzlies need to eat a lot in the summer in order to survive through a winter of hibernation. The grizzly defends its breeding territory, and mothers fiercely guard their cubs.

National Parks:

Grizzlies are found in Denali National Park and Preserve, AK; Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, AK; Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, AK; Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, AK; Kobuk Valley National Park, AK; Noatak National Preserve, AK; Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, AK; Glacier National Park, MT; North Cascades National Park, WA; Grant Teton National Park, WY; and Yellowstone, WY. 

Learn how to stay safe in bear country >>

Last Update: 3-26-07


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