This Wildlife Wednesday, learn about the majestic grizzly bear, and it needs our help.
Habitat: parts of North America, Europe, and Asia
Grizzly bear trivia
- The grizzly bear (also called the silvertip bear) is actually part of a wider classification called the brown bear. This group also includes the Mexican grizzly bear and the Kodiak bear. Believe it or not, brown bears also used to live in North Africa and the Middle East.
- The grizzly gets its name for the slightly gray (“grizzled”) tips of its fur.
- Although many people think of grizzlies are carnivores, they’re omnivores, eating plants and animals. One of the Canadian and Alaskan grizzlies’ favourite foods is salmon. They can often be found wading in water during salmon spawning, fishing. Other delicacies for grizzly bears include nuts, berries, fruit, leaves, roots, and other animals.
- Grizzlies hibernate in the winter in dens that they dig.
- Grizzly bears are fast runners—very fast. They have been recorded at speeds of 30 miles (48 km) per hour. They can be very territorial, so it’s best to exercise caution when in areas where grizzlies live, and educate yourself on how to avoid them, as well as what to do if you come across one.
Black bears and grizzlies
If you live in Canada, you’re likely familiar with both grizzlies and black bears. Do you know how to tell them apart? Although grizzlies are typically larger and lighter in colour, experts say that colour and size aren’t always reliable. Here are a few tricks:
- Grizzlies have humps on their shoulders, whereas black bears do not.
- Grizzly ears are smaller and rounded.
- Grizzlies have much longer claws.
- Grizzlies have broader faces.
Why they’re threatened
Although the grizzly isn’t technically listed as endangered, it is extirpated in some parts. This means that it’s extinct in one region, but still in existence in other areas. In Canada, the prairie grizzly population is extirpated. In referencing a report by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, the David Suzuki Foundation says that “15 subpopulations in western Alberta and southern B.C. are at risk of continued decline and eventual extinction.”
Threats include frequent contact with humans, habitat reduction, sport hunting, and killings by humans after being perceived as a threat.
To help the grizzly population, contact your local MPs and politicians to pressure them to take action. You can also support environmental groups in the form of volunteer work or donations. Also, stay tuned for our February article about Canada’s endangered species, and how individuals can help support at-risk Canadian animals, including the grizzly.