Grizzly bears have gained the reputation
for being the most ferocious and dangerous mammal in North America.
They usually are larger than black bears. They have a 'grizzled'
grey-brown coat, broad head and relatively long snout. They have
small, rounded heavily furred ears and a prominent hump on the shoulders.
The claws of the forefeet are long and utilized in digging for prey
such as ground squirrels. There is a high individual variation in
size and colouration. Adults weigh from 136 - 526 kg. (Banfield,
Columbia Basin: Throughout the Columbia
Basin in suitable habitat.
British Columbia: It is estimated
that there are about 10,000 - 13,000 Grizzly Bears distributed over
about 80% of the province. However, they are greatly affected by
loss of habitat from human settlement and development. This eliminates
or fragments the vast amounts of land needed for Grizzlies to survive.
They are extirpated over large areas in the Peace River lowlands,
the southern Interior and south coast, and are very sparse and endangered
adjacent to these areas (Cannings et al.1999)
Global: Historically, Grizzly Bears
had a vast distribution across Eurasia, North Africa, and North
America. However, it has been extirpated from most of its range.
The only places where substantial populations still exist are in
Russia and in northwestern North America (Nagorsen 1990).
Grizzlies prefer open areas such
as alpine tundra or subalpine forests.
Critical Grizzly Bear habitat includes
salmon spawning areas, herb-dominated avalanche slopes, estuaries,
skunk cabbage swamps, fen/marsh and riparian meadow/wetland complexes,
Vaccinium-dominated post-fire stands, subalpine parkland
meadows, and Hedysarum and Glacier Lily complexes (Cannings
et al. 1999).
Direct, human-caused mortality-hunting,
poaching, and killing associated with poor garbage management or
direct conflicts with humans or livestock-is a major threat. The
other primary concerns are habitat loss and fragmentation as a result
of forestry and fire suppression, and expanding human settlement
with its associated developments. Poaching is believed to cause
25%-100% of known kills on a regional/seasonal basis (Cannings et
Grizzly Bears are solitary, opportunistic
omnivores that have a home range of fifty to several hundred square
kilometres, usually larger for males than females. Vegetable foods,
such as roots, sedges, horsetails, sweet vetch, grasses, and berries,
comprise the main portion of their diet. A lesser portion consists
of insects, small mammals, carrion, and fish. Seasonal migration
to lower elevations in the spring, and to higher elevations in mid-summer
correspond to food availability. They remain at high elevations
in winter where a den is dug, in which they hibernate from October-November
to April-May. Females take at least four years to become sexually
mature. Mating occurs in the spring and early summer. Implantation
is delayed, and gestation lasts about 184 days, resulting in the
birth of 2 cubs, on average, inside the den. Cubs will generally
remain with the mother for the first two winters. Females may mate
only every third year (Cannings et al. 1999)