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Location: Bears
Tags: brown / bear / ursus / arctos

Brown Bear (Ursus arctos)



Brown Bear (Ursus arctos)
Order: Carnivora, Family: Ursida

Technically, brown and grizzly bears are classified as the same species. Brown bear refers to the members of the species found in coastal areas; brown bears found inland and in northern habitats are called grizzlies. The brown bear can weigh between 200 and 1,700 pounds. Brown bears are the largest of all carnivores. They measure 5 to 9 feet in length from head to rump, and their tails are 2 to 5 inches long. With a shoulder height of 3 to 5 feet, they can tower an intimidating 8 feet when standing upright on their hind legs. On average, adult males are larger than females. The brown bear's fur is usually dark brown, but varies from cream to almost black. Bears in the Rocky Mountains have long white-frosted hairs along their shoulders and back, giving them a grizzled appearance. Hence, the common name, grizzly bear. Brown bears are exceptionally strong, and have good endurance.



I. DESCRIPTION:
  • Technically, brown and grizzly bears are classified as the same species. Brown bear refers to the members of the species found in coastal areas; brown bears found inland and in northern habitats are called grizzlies.
  • The brown bear can weigh between 200 and 1,700 pounds.
  • Brown bears are the largest of all carnivores. They measure 5 to 9 feet in length from head to rump, and their tails are 2 to 5 inches long. With a shoulder height of 3 to 5 feet, they can tower an intimidating 8 feet when standing upright on their hind legs. On average, adult males are larger than females.
  • The brown bear's fur is usually dark brown, but varies from cream to almost black. Bears in the Rocky Mountains have long white-frosted hairs along their shoulders and back, giving them a grizzled appearance. Hence, the common name, grizzly bear.
  • Brown bears are exceptionally strong, and have good endurance.
II. GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
  • The majority of brown bears inhabit Canada, Alaska and Russia. However, small populations live in Western Europe (Austria, Finland, France, Italy, Norway, Spain and Sweden), Syria, northern India (in the Himalayas) and other countries. Fewer than 1,000 brown bears now make their home in the lower 48 U.S. states, primarily in and around Yellowstone and Glacier national parks.
  • Brown bears occupy many different habitats, but prefer open areas such as tundra, alpine meadows and coastlines.
III. DIET:
  • Brown bears mainly feed on vegetation, and their diet changes according to the season. In spring, they primarily eat grasses, sedges, roots, moss and bulbs; during summer and early autumn, they feast on berries, as well as bulbs and tubers.
  • The brown bear eats insects, fungi and roots year-round, and digs mice, ground squirrels and marmots out of their burrows.
  • In Alaska, brown bears have been observed eating carrion and occasionally capturing young moose and caribou calves. They also feed on spawning salmon.
  • Brown bears have been known to travel hundreds of miles during the fall to reach favorable food supplies, such as salmon streams and berry bushes.
IV. LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
  • Brown bears mate from May to July, although the fertilized eggs are not implanted in the uterus until mid- to late autumn. After a gestation of 180 to 266 days, females generally give birth to a litter of two cubs while still in hibernation (from January to March). Young are born blind and furless.
  • Females remain in estrus throughout the breeding season until mating occurs and do not ovulate again for at least two (often three or four) years after giving birth.
  • Cubs are weaned at 5 months of age but remain with the mother until at least their second spring of life (usually until the third or fourth). Brown bears become sexually mature between 4 and 6 years of age, but continue growing until 10 or 11 years of age.
  • Brown bears live for roughly 25 to 30 years in the wild, and have been known to reproduce at 25 years of age. Bears in captivity can live as long as 50 years.
  • Brown bears tend to be solitary, but they may gather at major food sources. In such situations, bears usually form dominance hierarchies, which they maintain with aggression.
V. SPECIAL NOTES/ADAPTATIONS:
  • The brown bear has long claws, which it uses to dig for roots or excavate the burrows of small mammals.
  • It has an especially good sense of smell and under the right conditions may be able to detect odors more than a mile away.



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