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Grizzly Bear

The grizzly is probably the most feared animal in North America (outside of used car salesmen, anyway). Yet despite this, grizzlies aren't predatory animals; they're omnivores, usually feeding on grass, berries, other plants and carrion. The Latin name for grizzly is ursus horibilis—literally, "bear horrible". Grizzlies can be black, blond, or any color in between. But no matter what color they are, most grizzlies have whitish-tipped hair—thus the nick-name "Silver-tip." There's your bit of interesing trivia for the day; impress your friends at parties.

Grizzly Bear
Ursus arctos horribilis

Grizzlies are usually between 3-4 feet tall at the shoulder, and can be as tall as eight feet when standing. Most mature grizzlies weigh between 400 and 700 pounds. The most prominent feature on a griz is the hump over the shoulders; other characteristics include a sloping back, a large dished forehead and two-inch long, curved claws. Cubs are born while their mother is in her den hibernating through winter, and will spend about two years with their mother before setting off on their own. Grizzlies are opportunistic feeders. No, that doesn't mean they frequent all-you-can-eat buffet diners; it means they take what they can get. Believe it or not, grizzlies are mostly vegetarians; close to 90% of a their diet is roots, foliage, fruit and berries. Grizzlies also eat insects and fish as well as other animals-whatever is the easiest meal they can find. Montana holds a significant portion of grizzly habitat, but even in places such as Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks (where grizzly populations are concentrated), grizzly sightings are rare.

Grizzlies and humans usually keep their distances. But when encounters do occur, they can end in serious injury or death. The best thing to do to avoid a bear attack is to use your brain: plan ahead if your trip includes bear country. Most serious encounters are a result of carelessness. Either people walk up a female with cubs by accident, or through a gradual but equally careless series of events, the grizzly becomes habituated to people through their food or garbage. Either way, nobody wins.

Grizzly Bear Map