Grizzly Bear Foraging

Grizzly Bears' Foraging Skills

Opportunistic Foragers

Grizzly bears are highly opportunistic foragers, and their foraging behavior is crucial for obtaining the diverse range of foods necessary for their survival.

Grizzly Bears' Plant-Based Diet

Grizzly bears are omnivores with a diet that includes a significant portion of plant-based foods. They forage for various plant materials, including grasses, herbs, berries, nuts, fruits, and roots.

Berries and Fruits

Grizzly bears are particularly fond of berries, and their foraging behavior intensifies during the berry season. Common berries consumed include huckleberries, blueberries, salmonberries, and others.

They also feed on fruits such as apples and pears when available.

Roots and Tubers

Grizzly bears use their powerful claws to dig for roots and tubers, especially in meadows and alpine areas. Plants like horsetails provide a nutrient-rich food source.

Grizzly Bear Fish Foraging

During the salmon spawning season, grizzly bears are known for their fishing skills. They stand near rivers and streams, using their keen eyesight and sense of smell to catch salmon.

Fish, particularly salmon, provide a high-calorie food source, crucial for building fat reserves.


Insects form another important component of a grizzly bear's diet. They forage for ants, beetles, and other invertebrates by overturning rocks, logs, or digging into the ground.

Grizzly bears may also consume moths and other insects during specific seasons.

Grizzly Bear Scavenging

Grizzly bears are opportunistic scavengers. They may feed on carrion, including the remains of animals that have died from natural causes or the leftovers from other predators' kills.

Grizzly Bears' Foraging Strategies

Grizzly bears employ various foraging strategies based on the type of food they are seeking. For example, they may use their claws to dig for roots, sweep their paws through grasses to collect seeds, or use their teeth to strip bark from trees.

Grizzly Bear Hyperphagia and Hibernation

Grizzly bears undergo hyperphagia, a period of increased feeding, in the late summer and fall. During this time, they consume large quantities of food to build up fat reserves for hibernation.

Hibernation allows bears to survive on stored fat during the winter when food sources are scarce.

Grizzly bears' adaptability to a wide variety of foods and their ability to switch between different foraging strategies make them resilient in diverse ecosystems. Their foraging behaviors also play a crucial role in shaping the landscape by influencing plant distribution and helping maintain ecosystem balance.

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Grizzly Bears in Canada

Wild Grizzly Bears

Grizzly Bear - Brown Bear Species

Genetic science reveals the grizzly to be a subspecies of the brown bear (Ursus arctos). In North America, "brown bear" is also known as "grizzly bear", being all the same species, Ursus arctos.

Coastal grizzly bears are larger and darker than inland grizzlies. They were considered a different species from grizzlies at one time. Kodiak grizzly bears also were considered a distinct species. At that time there were five different species of brown bear, including these three in North America.

Grizzly Bear Size

Female grizzlies usually weigh 130–180 kg (290–400 lb), while adult male grizzly bears weigh on average 180–360 kg (400–790 lb). Female Grizzly Bear average weights would be 136 kg (300 lb) inland and 227 kg (500 lb) coastal. One study found that the average weight for an inland male grizzly bear was around 272 kilograms (600 pounds), and the average weight for a coastal male was around 408 kg (899 lb). Newborn grizzly bear cubs uausally weigh less than 500 grams (1.1 lb).

Grizzly Bear Fur Color

Although grizzlies color can be blond to nearly black, grizzly bear fur is usually brown with darker legs and commonly white or blond tipped fur on the flank and back.

Grizzly Bear Physical Characteristics

A large muscular hump exists on adult grizzly bear shoulders. Aside from the distinguishing hump, grizzly bears also have "dished in" face profiles with short, rounded ears.

Grizzly bear's rear end is lower than its shoulders, where as a black bear's rump is higher than its shoulders.

Grizzly bear's front claws are usually 2–4 inches in length, where as a black bear's claws measure about 1–2 inches in length.

Grizzly Bear Hibernation

Grizzly bears hibernate from 5 to 7 months each year unless they live in warm climates where they may not hibernate at all. During hibernation, female grizzly bears give birth and their offspring will consume milk from their mother for the remainder of the hibernation period.

Grizzly bears must consume an immense amount of food to prepare for hibernation. Bears can gain hundreds of pounds during the period just before hibernation called hyperphagia. In this period, grizzlies may consume up to 10 times the amount of calories compared to Spring and Summer.

Bears do not eat during hibernation. Grizzly bears do not defecate or urinate throughout the entire hibernation period. Male grizzly bears usually come out of hibernation in early to mid-March, while females emerge in April or early May.

Bears often wait for a snowstorm as a trigger to enter their den. This behavior reduces the chances that predators will find the den. Grizzly Bear dens are typically at elevations above 1,800 m (5,900 ft) on north-facing slopes.

Inland or Rocky Mountain grizzlies spend nearly half of their life in dens while coastal grizzly bears spend less time in dens. If food is very plentiful year round, grizzly bears may not hibernate at all.

Grizzly Bear Reproduction

Grizzly bears have one of the lowest reproductive rates of all land mammals in North America. Grizzly bears do not reach sexual maturity until they are at least five years old. After mating, females delay embryo implantation until hibernation, during which miscarriage can occur if the female is not in good enough condition. Female grizzly bears usually produce two cubs in a litter, with the mother caring for the cubs for up to two years before mating again.

Grizzlies are normally solitary animals, but in coastal areas, grizzlies gather around streams, lakes, rivers, and ponds during the salmon spawn. Females (sows) produce one to four cubs that are small and weigh only about 450 grams (1 lb) at birth. Unfortunately, most grizzly bear cubs do not make it through their first year due to many factors.

Grizzly Bear Lifespan

The average lifespan for a grizzly boar is estimated at 22 years, with sows living slightly longer at 26.

Females live longer than males due to their less dangerous life, as they do not fight during mating season like boars do. The oldest known wild inland grizzly was about 34 years old(Alaska), with the oldest known coastal bear being 39. Captive grizzlies have been known to live as long as 44 years.