Natural Wonders Table of Contents
Natural Wonders is a series consisting of 11 parts.
- Natural Wonders: Quaking Aspen Trees
- Natural Wonders: Monarch Butterflies
- Natural Wonders: Barred Owls
- Natural Wonders: Hot Springs
- Natural Wonders: Grizzly Bears
- Natural Wonders: Marble
- Natural Wonders: Fall Aster
- Natural Wonders: Black Widow Spider
- Natural Wonders: Gray Wolf
- Natural Wonders: Bald Eagles
- Natural Wonders: Arctic Fox
The North American grizzly bear is as powerful and fierce as it is beautiful and majestic, so you will want to watch this wonder from a safe distance.
Grizzly bears are the North American subspecies of the brown bear. They are five to eight feet in length, and they weigh between 500 and 800 pounds on average. The bears have caramel brown fur with white tips, large round heads and strong, muscular builds. The bears also have a pronounced hump on their shoulders, which is once characteristic that distinguishes grizzly bears from black bears.
The bears eat nuts, berries, fruit, leaves, and roots, as well as large and small animals and fish. Although a large portion of their diet consists of vegetation, the bears stand at the top of the food chain as one of nature’s fiercest land predators.
Grizzly bears can be found in Alaska, western Canada, and in the northwestern states of Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks are protected areas where the bears can be seen.
The bears often live and travel alone, but they do sometimes gather in the same areas when they are feasting on spawning salmon in preparation for winter hibernation. Mothers also live and travel with their cubs for up to two years.
The grizzly bear is listed as threatened in the lower 48 states and endangered in parts of Canada. The once 50,000 grizzly bear population in North America is now at about 1,000 to 1,200 bears in five distinct population in the lower 48 states, according to Defenders of Wildlife. In Alaska, however, there are thought to be more than 30,000 grizzly bears.
The bears are threatened in the lower 48 states mainly due to their interaction with human populations. The bears have been forced to venture through human populated areas since the decline of the whitebark pine has reduced a source of forest food for the bears. Loss of habitat, accidental hunting, as well as illegal shooting, or poaching, of the grizzlies has also led to their decline.