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It is imperative that people are able to distinguish between the different bear species. In This Section. What People Are Saying. Follow us on Instagram at natgeoyourshot or visit us at natgeo.

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About Brown Bears. Brown Bear Fun Facts. Despite their lack of traditional territorial behavior, adult males can seem to have a “personal zone” in which other bears are not tolerated if they are seen. Similarly, in British Columbia , bears of the two sexes travel relatively compact home ranges of km 2 44 sq mi and km 2 sq mi. In Yellowstone National Park , home ranges for females are up to km 2 sq mi and up to km 2 sq mi for males.

In Romania , the largest home range was recorded for adult males 3, km 2 , sq mi. A study of male-inherited Y chromosome DNA sequence found that brown bears, over the past few 10, years, have shown strong male-biased dispersal. Notably, this contrasts with genetic signals from female-inherited mitochondrial DNA mtDNA , where brown bears of different geographic regions typically show strong differences in their mtDNA, a result of female philopatry. The mating season is from mid-May to early July, shifting later the further north the bears are found.

Females come into oestrus on average every three to four years, with a full range of 2. The urine markings of a female in oestrus can attract several males via scent. Males take no part in raising their cubs — parenting is left entirely to the females.

During winter dormancy, the fetus attaches to the uterine wall. The cubs are born eight weeks later while the mother sleeps. If the mother does not gain enough weight to survive through the winter while gestating, the embryo does not implant and is reabsorbed into the body.

At this time, the cubs weigh 7 to 9 kg 15 to 20 lb and have developed enough to follow her over long distances and begin to forage for solid food. The cubs are fully dependent on the mother and a close bond is formed. During the dependency stage, the cubs learn rather than inherit as instincts from birth survival techniques, such as which foods have the highest nutritional value and where to obtain them; how to hunt, fish and defend themselves; and where to den.

The brown bear is one of the most omnivorous animals in the world and has been recorded as consuming the greatest variety of foods of any bear. Food that is both abundant and easily accessed or caught is preferred. Their jaw structure has evolved to fit their dietary habits. Their diet varies enormously throughout their differing areas based on opportunity. They use their long, strong claws to dig out earth to reach the roots and their powerful jaws to bite through them. Roots and bulbs become critical in autumn for some inland bear populations if fruit crops are poor.

Bears in Yellowstone eat an enormous number of moths during the summer, sometimes as many as 40, Army cutworm moths in a single day, and may derive up to half of their annual food energy from these insects.

In Alaska, bears along the beaches of estuaries regularly dig through the sand for clams. In the Kamchatka peninsula and several parts of coastal Alaska, brown bears feed mostly on spawning salmon , whose nutrition and abundance explain the enormous size of the bears in these areas. The fishing techniques of bears are well-documented. They often congregate around falls when the salmon are forced to breach the water, at which point the bears will try to catch the fish in mid-air often with their mouths.

They will also wade into shallow waters, hoping to pin a slippery salmon with their claws. While they may eat almost all the parts of the fish, bears at the peak of spawning, when there is usually a glut of fish to feed on, may eat only the most nutrious parts of the salmon including the eggs and head and then indifferently leave the rest of the carcass to scavengers, which can include red foxes , bald eagles , common ravens and gulls.

Despite their normally solitary habits, brown bears will gather rather closely in numbers at good spawning sites. The largest and most powerful males claim the most fruitful fishing spots and bears especially males will sometimes fight over the rights to a prime fishing spot.

Beyond the regular predation of salmon, most brown bears are not particularly active predators. Such bears are usually taught how to hunt by their mothers from an early age. Typically when hunting especially with young prey , the bear pins its prey to the ground and then immediately tears and eats it alive.

Brown bears may also ambush young animals by finding them via scent. Carrion is especially important in the early spring when the bears are emerging from hibernation , much of it comprising winter-killed big game. When forced to live in close proximity with humans and their domesticated animals, bears may potentially predate any type of domestic animal.

Among these, domestic cattle are sometimes exploited as prey. Cattle are bitten on the neck, back or head and then the abdominal cavity is opened for eating.

When an open garbage dump was kept in Yellowstone, brown bears were one of the most voracious and regular scavengers. The dump was closed after both brown and American black bears came to associate humans with food and lost their natural fear of them. Adult bears are generally immune to predatory attacks except from tigers and other bears.

Siberian tigers prefer preying on young Ussuri brown bears , but smaller adult female brown bears outside their dens may also be taken, generally when lethargic from hibernation. Brown bears regularly intimidate wolves to drive them away from their kills. In Yellowstone National Park , bears pirate wolf kills so often, Yellowstone’s Wolf Project director Doug Smith wrote, “It’s not a matter of if the bears will come calling after a kill, but when.

Though conflict over carcasses is common, on rare occasions, the two predators tolerate each other on the same kill. To date, there is a single case of fully-grown wolves being killed by a grizzly bear. In some areas, grizzly bears also regularly displace cougars from their kills. However, wolverines have been persistent enough to fend off a grizzly bear as much as ten times their weight off a kill. Brown bears usually dominate other bear species in areas where they coexist.

Due to their smaller size, American black bears are at a competitive disadvantage to grizzly bears in open, unforested areas. Although displacement of black bears by grizzly bears has been documented, actual interspecific killing of black bears by grizzlies has only occasionally been reported. Confrontation is mostly avoided due to the black bear’s diurnal habits and preference for heavily forested areas, as opposed to the grizzly’s largely nocturnal habits and preference for open spaces.

There has been a recent increase in interactions between brown bears and polar bears , theorized to be caused by climate change. Brown and grizzly bears have been seen moving increasingly northward into territories formerly claimed by polar bears. They tend to dominate polar bears in disputes over carcasses, [] and dead polar bear cubs have been found in brown bear dens. The brown bear has a naturally long life.

Wild females have been observed reproducing up to 28 years of age, which is the oldest known age for reproduction of any ursid in the wild. The peak reproductive age for females ranges from four to 20 years old.

While male bears potentially live longer in captivity, female grizzly bears have a greater annual survival rate than males within wild populations per a study done in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Studies have indicated that the most prevalent source of mortality for first-year cubs is malnutrition. Even in populations living in protected areas, humans are still the leading cause of mortality for brown bears.

Even where hunting is legally permitted, most biologists feel that the numbers hunted are excessive considering the low reproduction rate and sparse distribution of the species.

Brown bears usually avoid areas where extensive development or urbanization has occurred, unlike the smaller, more inoffensive American black bear which can adapt to peri-urban regions. Brown bears may even venture into human dwellings or barns in search of food as humans encroach on bear habitats. When brown bears come to associate human activity with a “food reward”, they are likely to continue to become emboldened; the likelihood of human-bear encounters increases, as they may return to the same location despite relocation.

Relocation of the bear has been used to separate the bear from the human environment, but it does not address the problem of the bear’s newly learned association of humans with food or the environmental situations which created the human-habituated bear. The scenic beauty of the area has led to an influx of people moving into the area. In addition, because there are so many bear relocations to the same remote areas of Yellowstone, and because male bears tend to dominate the center of the relocation zone, female bears tend to be pushed to the boundaries of the region and beyond.

As a result, a large proportion of repeat offenders, bears that are killed for public safety, are females. This creates a further depressive effect on an already-endangered subspecies. The grizzly bear is officially described as “Threatened” in the U. Although the problem is most significant with regard to grizzlies, these issues affect the other types of brown bears as well.

In Europe, part of the problem lies with shepherds ; over the past two centuries, many sheep and goat herders have gradually abandoned the more traditional practice of using dogs to guard flocks, which have concurrently grown larger.

Typically, they allow the herds to graze freely over sizeable tracts of land. As brown bears reclaim parts of their range, they may eat livestock as sheep and goats are relatively easy for a bear to kill.

In some cases, the shepherds shoot the bear, thinking their livelihood is under threat. Many are now better informed about the ample compensation available and will make a claim when they lose livestock to a bear.

Despite that most stations were cautiously set in remote areas far from human habitations, some brown bears in such areas have become conditioned to associate humans with food and become excessively bold “problem bears”. Also, supplemental feeding appears to cause no decrease in livestock predation. Brown bears seldom attack humans on sight and usually avoid people.

In Russia, it is estimated that 1 in 1, on-foot encounters with brown bears results in an attack. The two most common causes for bear attack are surprise and curiosity. Despite their boldness and potential for predation if the bear is hungry, polar bears rarely attack humans, because they are infrequently encountered in the Arctic sea.

Increased aggressiveness also assists female brown bears in better ensuring the survival of their young to reproductive age. Sows with cubs account for many attacks on humans by brown bears in North America. Habituated or food-conditioned bears can also be dangerous, as their long-term exposure to humans causes them to lose their natural shyness and, in some cases, to associate humans with food. Small parties of one or two people are more often attacked by brown bears than large groups, with only one known case of an attack on a group of six or more.

In that instance, it is thought that due to surprise, the grizzly bear may not have recognized the size of the group. People who assert their presence through noises tend to be less vulnerable, as they alert bears to their presence.

In direct confrontations, people who run are statistically more likely to be attacked than those who stand their ground. Violent encounters with brown bears usually last only a few minutes, though they can be prolonged if the victims fight back.

Attacks on humans are considered extremely rare in the former Soviet Union , though exceptions exist in districts where they are not as often pursued by hunters.

The delineation in Eurasia between areas where aggressiveness of brown bears tends to increase is the Ural Mountains , although the brown bears of eastern Europe are somewhat more aggressive than those of western Europe. It killed seven people and wounded three others with possibly another three previous fatalities to its credit before being gunned down after a large-scale beast-hunt.

Within Yellowstone National Park, injuries caused by grizzly attacks in developed areas averaged approximately one per year during the s through to the s, though it increased to four per year during the s. They then decreased to one injury every two years during the s.

Between and , there have been only two human injuries caused by grizzly bears in a developed area. Although grizzly attacks were rare in the backcountry before , the number of attacks increased to an average of approximately one per year during the s, s and s. A study by U. Solid shotgun slugs, or three buckshot rounds, or a pistol of. Guns remain a viable, last resort option to be used in defense of life from aggressive brown bears.

According to the Alaska Science Center, a gauge shotgun with slugs has been the most effective weapon.

There have been fewer injuries as a result of only carrying lethal loads in the shotgun, as opposed to deterrent rounds. State of Alaska Defense of Life or Property DLP laws require one to report the kill to the authorities and salvage the hide, skull and claws.

Campers are often told to wear bright-colored red ribbons and bells and carry whistles to ward off bears. They are told to look for grizzly bear dung in camping areas and be careful to carry the bells and whistles in those areas. Grizzly bear dung is difficult to differentiate from American black bear dung, as diet is in a constant state of flux depending on the availability of seasonal food items.

If a bear is killed near camp, the bear’s carcass must be adequately disposed of, including entrails and blood, if possible. Failure to move the carcass has often resulted in it attracting other bears and further exacerbating a bad situation. Moving camps immediately is another recommended method. Brown bears often figure into the literature of Europe and North America, in particular that which is written for children.

In German-speaking countries, children are often told the fairytale of ” Snow White and Rose Red “; the handsome prince in this tale has been transfigured into a brown bear. The Russian bear is a common national personification for Russia as well as the former Soviet Union , despite the country having no appointed national animal.

The brown bear is Finland’s national animal. The grizzly bear is the state animal of Montana. The brown bear is depicted on the reverse of the Croatian 5 kuna coin, minted since The Bundesliga club Bayern Munich has a brown bear mascot named Berni. Grizzlies will also scavenge meat, when available, from elk and bison carcasses or road kill. Grizzly bears spend most of their time feeding, eating up to 30 pounds of food per day to store fat for the winter. Alaskan brown bears are the largest brown bears and require a very high caloric intake of food.

Brown bears in Alaska can eat 80 to 90 pounds of food per day in the summer and fall, gaining around three to six pounds of fat each day, in order to store fat for the winter. Alaskan brown bears are opportunistic eaters and will eat almost anything. Their diet consists of berries, flowers, grasses, herbs, and roots. They get their protein from beavers, deer, caribou, salmon, carcasses, and other small mammals.

Most brown bears spend the winter hibernating in dens to avoid the cold weather and lack of abundant food sources. Their bodies use the fat they stored in the summer as energy. Yellowstone grizzlies enter their winter dens between mid-October and early December, when the weather gets cooler.

Most grizzly bears, especially mothers with cubs, will sleep through the winter. Some bears may wake up and leave their dens to search for food.



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International Conf. The second upper molar is smaller than the others, and is usually absent in adults.