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BC Conservation Data Centre: Species Summary


Ursus arctos
Grizzly Bear


 
Scientific Name: Ursus arctos Linnaeus, 1758
English Name: Grizzly Bear
 
Classification / Taxonomy
Scientific Name - Concept Reference: Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Second edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw/.
Classification Level: Species
Species Group: Vertebrate Animal
Species Code: M-URAR
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Craniata Mammalia Carnivora Ursidae
   
Conservation Status / Legal Designation
Global Status: G4 (Jul 2022)
Provincial Status: S3? (Feb 2015)
BC List: Blue
Provincial FRPA list: Y (May 2004)  
Provincial Wildlife Act:
COSEWIC Status: Special Concern (May 2012)
SARA Schedule: 1  -  Special Concern (Jun 2018)
General Status Canada: 3 - Sensitive (2005)
   
Ecology & Life History
General Description: Color ranges from pale yellowish to dark brown; usually white tips on the hairs, especially on the back, resulting in a frosted or grizzled effect; facial profile concave; claws on front feet of adults about 4 inches long and curved; noticeable hump above shoulders; head and body of adults about 6-8 feet, height at shoulders 3-4.5 feet (Burt and Grossenheider 1964).
Global Reproduction Comments: Breeds in late spring and early summer. Implantation is delayed; gestation lasts about 184 days. Litter size is 1-4 (average 2). Young are born in winter, remain with mother usually the first two winters. Breeding interval generally is 2-4 years. In North America, first parturition occurs at 5-6 years in the south, 6-9 years in the north. A few live as long as 20-25 years. Long life span, late sexual maturity, protracted reproductive cycles.
Global Ecology Comments: May congregate in areas with abundant food; otherwise solitary except when breeding or caring for young. Density estimates range from 1/1.5-4 sq km (Kodiak Island) to 1/50 sq km (Yellowstone) to 0.6-7.9/1000 sq km (Norway).

In the Yellowstone region, lack of berries and large fluctuations in the size of pine seed crops were major factors limiting bear density (Mattson et al. 1991).

In British Columbia-Montana, survivorship of adult and subadult females was the most important variable in estimating population trend.
Migration Characteristics:
(Global / Provincial)
 
    Nonmigrant:
    Local Migrant:
    Distant Migrant:
    Within Borders Migrant:
Y /
Y /
N /
na /
Global Migration Comments: In North America, often exhibits discrete elevational movements from spring to fall, following seasonal food availability (LeFranc et al. 1987); generally at lower elevations in spring, higher elevations in mid-summer and winter.

Home range exhibits much variation among different individuals, areas, and seasons; male range generally is larger than that of female; annual range varies from less than 25 sq km (Kodiak Island) to more than 2000 sq km (see LeFranc et al. 1987), generally several hundred sq km (Banci 1991, Pasitschniak-Arts 1993). Range from 2,000 to 60,000 hectares in Yellowstone, averaging 8,000 hectares (Craighead 1976); male home ranges in the Yukon averaged 41,400 hectares (Pearson 1975).
Habitats:
(Type / Subtype / Dependence)
Agriculture / Pasture/Old Field / Facultative - frequent use
Alpine/Tundra / Tundra / Facultative - frequent use
Anthropogenic / Urban/Suburban / Facultative - occasional use
Forest / Conifer Forest - Dry / Facultative - frequent use
Forest / Conifer Forest - Mesic (average) / Facultative - frequent use
Forest / Conifer Forest - Moist/wet / Facultative - frequent use
Forest / Deciduous/Broadleaf Forest / Facultative - frequent use
Forest / Mixed Forest (deciduous/coniferous mix) / Facultative - frequent use
Grassland/Shrub / Grassland / Facultative - frequent use
Grassland/Shrub / Meadow / Facultative - frequent use
Grassland/Shrub / Sagebrush Steppe / Facultative - occasional use
Other Unique Habitats / Avalanche Track / Facultative - frequent use
Other Unique Habitats / Beach / Facultative - occasional use
Other Unique Habitats / Estuary / Facultative - frequent use
Riparian / Gravel Bar / Facultative - frequent use
Riparian / Riparian Forest / Facultative - frequent use
Riparian / Riparian Herbaceous / Facultative - frequent use
Riparian / Riparian Shrub / Facultative - frequent use
Rock/Sparsely Vegetated Rock / Talus / Facultative - frequent use
Stream/River / Stream/River / Facultative - occasional use
Subterranean / Caves / Facultative - occasional use
Wetland / Bog / Facultative - frequent use
Wetland / Fen / Facultative - frequent use
Wetland / Marsh / Facultative - frequent use
Wetland / Swamp / Facultative - frequent use
Global Habitat Comments: Now found mostly in arctic tundra, alpine tundra, and subalpine mountain forests. Once found in a wide variety of habitats including: open prairie, brushlands, riparian woodlands, and semidesert scrub. Ranges widely at the landscape level. Most populations require huge areas of suitable habitat. Common only where food is abundant and concentrated (e.g., salmon runs, caribou calving grounds). Typically digs own hibernation den, usually on steep northern slope where snow accumulates. See LeFranc et al. (1987).

Young are born in den in cave, crevice, hollow tree, hollow dug under rock, or similar site. Use of summit or ridge for mating (in May-June) reported for Banff National Park, Alberta, but not elsewhere (Hamer and Herrero 1990). In the Northwest Territories, Canada, all dens were on well-drained slopes; the majority of dens faced south (25), followed by west (13), east (10), and north (8); most dens were constructed under cover of tall shrubs (Betula glandulosa and Salix), the root structures of which supported ceilings of dens; esker habitat was selected more than expected by chance (McLoughlin et al. 2002).

In Spain, remnant deciduous forests and upland creek drainages were prime feeding areas (Clevenger et al. 1992).
Food Habits: Carnivore: Adult, Immature
Frugivore: Adult, Immature
Granivore: Adult, Immature
Herbivore: Adult, Immature
Invertivore: Adult, Immature
Piscivore: Adult, Immature
Global Food Habits Comments: Opportunistic omnivore. In all areas, vegetal matter is a dominant portion of the diet. Feeds on carrion, fish (especially coastal populations), large and small mammals, insects, fruit, grasses, bark, roots, mushrooms, and garbage. May cache food (and guard it). In the Yellowstone region, ungulate remains were a major portion of early season scats; graminoids dominated in May and June, and whitebark pine seeds were most important in late season scats; berries composed a minor portion of scats in all seasons (Mattson et al. 1991). May feed on insect aggregations (e.g., army cutworm moths, ladybird beetles); in Shoshone National Forest, Yellowstone ecosystem, alpine insect aggregations are an important source of food, especially in the absence of high-quality foraging alternatives in July and August of most years (Mattson et al. 1991). In Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, main food was roots of HEDYSARUM SULPHURESCENS in spring and autumn, ERYTHRONIUM GRANDIFLORUM corms and green vegetation (mainly umbellifers) from June through early August; VACCINIUM fruits were important in late July and August (see Hamer et al. [1991] for further details). Sometimes preys on black bear and conspecifics (Mattson et al., 1992, J. Mamm. 73:422-425).
Global Phenology: Crepuscular: Adult, Immature
Diurnal: Adult, Immature
Hibernates/aestivates: Adult, Immature
Nocturnal: Adult, Immature
Global Phenology Comments: Tends to be predominantly crepuscular with the least activity during midday, but much individual variation. Dormant in winter. In North America, usually enters den in October or November, emerges usually in April-May (some in late March in south). In the Northwest Territories, Canada, den entrance occurred primarily in last two weeks of October; the majority of bears emerged from dens in the first week of May (McLoughlin et al. 2002). The latest dates of den entrance in North America are on southwest Kodiak Island, Alaska, where mean dates of den entrance for males and females are in mid-November and early December, respectively (Van Daele et al. 1990).
Provincial Phenology:
(1st half of month/
2nd half of month)
Colonial Breeder: N
Length(cm)/width(cm)/Weight(g): 213/ / 680000
Elevation (m) (min / max): Global: 
Provincial: 
   
 
Distribution
Endemic: N
Global Range Comment: Formerly throughout western North America, north from northern Mexico; northwestern Africa, all of the Palearctic from western Europe, Near and Middle East through the northern Himalayas to western and northern China and Chukot (Russia) and Hokkaido (Japan) (Wozencraft, in Wilson and Reeder 1993); see Pasitschniak-Arts (1993) for additional details. In North America, present range includes Alaska, northern and western Canada, northern Continental Divide in Montana, Cabinet/Yaak mountains in Montana/Idaho, and Yellowstone area, Wyoming/Montana/Idaho, USA. Common only in Alaska, parts of the Yukon, northern and coastal British Columbia, and portions of the northern Rocky Mountains. In Europe, apart from northern Europe, distribution has shrunk to a few isolated populations in the Pyrenees, the Apenines, the Alps, the Balkan Peninsula, and the Carpathians (Hartl and Hell 1994), although reintroductions have bolstered subpopulations in some areas (Barba et al. 2010).
 
Authors / Contributors
Global Information Author: Hammerson, G.
Last Updated: Mar 18, 2005
Provincial Information Author:
Last Updated:
   
References and Related Literature
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Aengst, P. 2000. The Yellowstone to Yukon Initiative: A New Conservation Paradigm to Protect the Heart of North America. Pp. 895-900 in L.M. Darling, ed. 2000. Proc. Conf. on the Biology and Manage. Species and Habitats at Risk, Kamloops, B.C., 15-19 Feb., 1999. Vol. 2; B.C. Minist. Environ., Lands and Parks, Victoria, BC, and Univ. College of the Cariboo, Kamloops, BC. 520pp.
Allendorf, F. W., K. L. Knudsen, and R. B. Harris. 1992. Conservation and the genetics of populations: brown bears. Abstract, Society for Conservation Biology, 6th Annual Meeting, p. 32.
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Please visit the website Conservation Status Ranks for definitions of the data fields used in this summary report.

Suggested Citation:

B.C. Conservation Data Centre. 2005. Species Summary: Ursus arctos. B.C. Minist. of Environment. Available: https://a100.gov.bc.ca/pub/eswp/ (accessed Jun 15, 2024).