You Are At: AllSands Home > Science > Animals > The grizzly bear
The mighty grizzly bear conjures up an image of untamed brute force. Although it is one of the world's largest land based carnivores, it eats mainly plants and insects. Like other bears, the grizzly lacks shearing teeth, teeth to slice into flesh. Instead, it has broad molars to grind up plant material. The moist nose on the snout lends the bear its most important tool: a superb sense of smell. His paws are broad, flat, five toed feet have long, sharp claws. Like other bears, the grizzly walks on the full soles of its feet. The grizzly can manage brief bursts of speed on its short, powerful limbs. Sturdy hind legs can support the bear's full weight when standing. His shaggy, brown hair keeps out the winter cold. The grayish tips give the bear a grizzled look and also its name.

The grizzly bear, a North American subspecies of the brown bear, once ranged from Alaska to Mexico and across the prairies to the east. The grizzly is well suited to its cold habitat. Its vast bulk, increased in winter with a layer of fat, lets it tolerate extreme cold and also helps the grizzly charge through knotted undergrowth in thick forest.

Some grizzlies do live within a loosely structured family group, but the grizzly is largely solitary. The bear is active night or day, but keeps to a nightly routine with humans near. As cold weather sets in and food becomes scarce, the grizzly prepares for a winter rest; it finds a cave and makes a bed from grass and twigs. It does not enter a full state of hibernation, but lives on its body fat reserves until spring.

The grizzly roots out insects, berries, nuts and small rodents from the undergrowth. With its long, stout claws, it rakes honey from bees' nests, relying on its thick coat to fend off swarms. It also eats meat. Early spring his diet will mostly consist of Salmon that swim up from the pacific. From late summer, the bear feeds heavily on fruit and berries to build up fat for its long winter sleep.

The male grizzly seeks a mate in late spring and early summer by tracking the female's scent. After mating, he leaves, fulfilling his parental role. The pregnant female stocks her den with leafy bedding in the autumn. She gives birth, usually to twins, in January or February. The cubs weigh only 1 lb. at birth, but grow rapidly on rich milk. When the cubs reach their second spring, their mother is ready to mate again. She forces them away to live on their own, leaving her free to breed.

The grizzly population started to dwindle from the early 1800's due to hunting and human settlements. The bears retreated into remote areas, by the 1970's there were only about 300 in the U.S. outside Alaska. Thanks to a number of National Parks the grizzly population is actually increasing. This will see to it that our future generations will be able to enjoy the Grizzly Bear.