Canadian Species Spotlight - The Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear (scientific name: Ursus arctos horribilis), sometimes called the Silvertip Bear, is a subspecies of the brown bear living in North America.

Grizzly Bear Habitat

Roaming the North American continent for the past million years, the grizzly bear has managed to outlive both the saber-toothed tiger and the mastodon.

As major targets of human hunters, however, the tens of thousands of grizzlies that once inhabited the Great Plains and the Rockies and Sierras of the American West have been reduced to a fraction of their former numbers.

Today, most grizzlies live in Alaska and Canada. Probably fewer than a thousand remain in the 48 contiguous states, and those bears are found almost exclusively in some 10 million acres of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

Grizzly Bear Information & Characteristic

The term "grizzly" refers to the white-tipped hairs that give it a frosty grizzled appearance, particularly those of the Rocky Mountains, and colors can range from a grayish color through yellow-brown to a dark-brown or nearly black coloration. The color depends largely on the grizzly bear habitat and also on the indigenous climate.

The size of grizzly bears decreases generally from the north to the south, ranging from up to 680 kilograms in the north to 80 to 200 kilograms in the south of the country.

The grizzly bear male is on average 1.8 times heavier than the female. Despite its massive figure he can run with a speed of over 60 km/h. The forelegs and the shoulders of the grizzly are particularly massive and powerful, enabling him to dig and to climb. Grizzly bears climb trees to find honey and are accomplished swimmers.

They use their claws and powerful jaws to fight, catch their food and to mark their territory on the trunks of trees. A grizzly's sense of smell is well developed, and its life expectancy is around 30 years.

The grizzly bear accumulates 200 kg of fat in order to survive the harsh winters of its habitat in a state of lethargy which is not, however, a real hibernation. The grizzly bear is omnivorous, eating anything from fish, honey and ants to beached whales. They also feed on dead game and other carrion. On rare occasions they kill elk and dig out ground squirrels and foxes.

Nevertheless, 90% of its diet is vegetarian. The grizzly bear is normally a solitary animal buts gets together with other bears along the banks of fast-flowing streams and rivers during the salmon breeding period when the fish are going upriver to spawn.

Grizzly Bear Cubs

Grizzlies usually mate sometime between May and July.

Grizzly bear males are thought to find females by smell, relying on olfactory clues such as those left on rubbing posts. They often actively travel at this time of year, sniffing the ground and the breeze for the scent of a potential mate. Sometimes they get so engrossed in their search that they neglect to eat for hours at a stretch.

The grizzly bear females do not become pregnant immediately because bears have developed a procedure called delayed implantation, which mean that the fertilized egg floats in the female's womb for several months until conditions for developing the fetus are right. If she is well fed, it will settle into the uterine wall and develop while she is hibernating. If the female fails to get enough to eat during the summer, the egg will die.

The cubs are born in midwinter and the number depends in part on the local food supply. Twins are usually the most common result. At birth, the grizzly is blind and toothless and weighs about 500 grams. They are so small that newborn would easily fit into cupped hands, although they grow fast and are robust and playful by the time warm weather arrives.

Why don't you join us when we go photograph the Grizzly Bear in British Columbia. See our trips in 2016 and 2017. See our trips here


Information in this post supplied by and photos from on of our lodges we use near Atlin, BC


Kevin A Pepper

Kevin is a photographer and educator based in Waterloo, Ontario. His first love is photographing nature, regardless of the season or weather condition; the Ontario landscape and its wildlife are his inspiration. But you will also see other styles of photography in his portfolio. From street photography to urban exploration of abandoned buildings and architecture, he loves to capture it all with his camera for his corporate clients and his growing personal portfolio. Kevin’s images have been featured in Canadian Nature Photographer, PHOTONews Canada, Photo Technique Magazine, The London Free Press, The Weather Network, and National Geographic Online. His diverse client list includes the City of Cambridge, Olympus, GORE Mutual, TVO, and African Lion Safari. Kevin also operates “Northof49 Photography”, a company launched in 2012 dedicated to teaching amateur photographers through International and Canadian-based workshops. In the coming year, Kevin will be leading workshops in Iceland, Mongolia, Tanzania, Venezuela, Provence, and numerous destinations across Canada. Website: