Brown Bear
Overview
The brown bear is a large bear
Bear
Bears are mammals of the family Ursidae. Bears are classified as caniforms, or doglike carnivorans, with the pinnipeds being their closest living relatives. Although there are only eight living species of bear, they are widespread, appearing in a wide variety of habitats throughout the Northern...

 distributed across much of northern Eurasia
Eurasia
Eurasia is a continent or supercontinent comprising the traditional continents of Europe and Asia ; covering about 52,990,000 km2 or about 10.6% of the Earth's surface located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres...

 and North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

. It can weigh from 300 to 780 kg (661.4 to 1,719.6 lb) and its largest subspecies, the Kodiak Bear
Kodiak Bear
The Kodiak bear , also known as the Kodiak brown bear or the Alaskan grizzly bear or American brown bear, occupies the islands of the Kodiak Archipelago in South-Western Alaska. Its name in the Alutiiq language is Taquka-aq. It is the largest subspecies of brown bear.- Taxonomy :Taxonomist C.H...

, rivals the polar bear
Polar Bear
The polar bear is a bear native largely within the Arctic Circle encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is the world's largest land carnivore and also the largest bear, together with the omnivorous Kodiak Bear, which is approximately the same size...

 as the largest member of the bear family and as the largest land-based predator.

There are several recognized subspecies within the brown bear species. In North America, two types are generally recognized, the coastal brown bear and the inland grizzly, and the two types could broadly define all brown bear subspecies.
Encyclopedia
The brown bear is a large bear
Bear
Bears are mammals of the family Ursidae. Bears are classified as caniforms, or doglike carnivorans, with the pinnipeds being their closest living relatives. Although there are only eight living species of bear, they are widespread, appearing in a wide variety of habitats throughout the Northern...

 distributed across much of northern Eurasia
Eurasia
Eurasia is a continent or supercontinent comprising the traditional continents of Europe and Asia ; covering about 52,990,000 km2 or about 10.6% of the Earth's surface located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres...

 and North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

. It can weigh from 300 to 780 kg (661.4 to 1,719.6 lb) and its largest subspecies, the Kodiak Bear
Kodiak Bear
The Kodiak bear , also known as the Kodiak brown bear or the Alaskan grizzly bear or American brown bear, occupies the islands of the Kodiak Archipelago in South-Western Alaska. Its name in the Alutiiq language is Taquka-aq. It is the largest subspecies of brown bear.- Taxonomy :Taxonomist C.H...

, rivals the polar bear
Polar Bear
The polar bear is a bear native largely within the Arctic Circle encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is the world's largest land carnivore and also the largest bear, together with the omnivorous Kodiak Bear, which is approximately the same size...

 as the largest member of the bear family and as the largest land-based predator.

There are several recognized subspecies within the brown bear species. In North America, two types are generally recognized, the coastal brown bear and the inland grizzly, and the two types could broadly define all brown bear subspecies. Grizzlies weigh as little as 350 lb (159 kg) in Yukon
Yukon
Yukon is the westernmost and smallest of Canada's three federal territories. It was named after the Yukon River. The word Yukon means "Great River" in Gwich’in....

, while a brown bear, living on a steady, nutritious diet of spawning salmon
Salmon
Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the same family are called trout; the difference is often said to be that salmon migrate and trout are resident, but this distinction does not strictly hold true...

, from coastal Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

 and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 can weigh 1,500 lb (682 kg). The exact number of overall brown subspecies remains in debate.

While the brown bear's range has shrunk, and it has faced local extinctions, it remains listed as a least concern
Least Concern
Least Concern is an IUCN category assigned to extant taxon or lower taxa which have been evaluated but do not qualify for any other category. As such they do not qualify as threatened, Near Threatened, or Conservation Dependent...

 species by the IUCN, with a total population of approximately 200,000. Its principal range countries are Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 (mostly in Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

), Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, the Carpathian
Carpathian
Carpathian may refer to:*Carpathian Mountains of Central and Eastern Europe*Carpathian Convention on sustainable development in that region*Carpathian Shepherd Dog, a Romanian sheep dog*Subcarpathian Voivodeship, an administrative division of Poland...

 region (especially Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, but also Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, Slovakia
Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

, and so on), the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

, Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, where it is the national animal. The brown bear is the most widely distributed of all bears.

Naming and etymology

The brown bear is sometimes referred to as the bruin
Bruin
Bruin or BRUIN may refer to any of the following:* Bruin, the bear in the Reynard cycle fables, whence the word was introduced into English* A bear, especially a Eurasian Brown Bear* Brown University Interactive Language, a programming language...

, from Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....

, based on the name of the bear in History of Reynard the Fox, translated by William Caxton
William Caxton
William Caxton was an English merchant, diplomat, writer and printer. As far as is known, he was the first English person to work as a printer and the first to introduce a printing press into England...

, from Middle Dutch
Middle Dutch
Middle Dutch is a collective name for a number of closely related West Germanic dialects which were spoken and written between 1150 and 1500...

 bruun or bruyn, meaning brown
Brown
Brown is a color term, denoting a range of composite colors produced by a mixture of orange, red, rose, or yellow with black or gray. The term is from Old English brún, in origin for any dusky or dark shade of color....

(the color). During the Old West, the grizzly was termed "Old Ephraim" and sometimes as "Moccasin Joe".

Taxonomy and evolution

Brown bears are thought to have evolved from Ursus etruscus. The oldest fossils occur in China from about 0.5 million years ago. They entered Europe about 250,000 years ago, and North Africa shortly after. Brown bear remains from the Pleistocene period are common in the British Isles
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...

, where it is thought they outcompeted cave bear
Cave Bear
The cave bear was a species of bear that lived in Europe during the Pleistocene and became extinct at the beginning of the Last Glacial Maximum about 27,500 years ago....

s. The species entered Alaska 100,000 years ago, though they did not move south until 13,000 years ago. It is thought brown bears were unable to migrate south until the extinction of the much larger Arctodus simus. Several paleontologists suggest the possibility of two separate brown bear migrations: grizzlies are thought to stem from narrow-skulled bears which migrated from northern Siberia to central Alaska and the rest of the continent, while Kodiak bears descend from broad-skulled bears from Kamchatka, which colonized the Alaskan peninsula. Brown bear fossils discovered in Ontario, Ohio, Kentucky and Labrador show the species occurred farther east than indicated in historic records.

Subspecies

There is little agreement on classification of brown bears. Some systems have proposed as many as 90 subspecies, while recent DNA analysis has identified as few as five clades. DNA analysis recently revealed that the identified subspecies of brown bears, both Eurasian and North American, are genetically quite homogeneous, and that their genetic phylogeography
Phylogeography
Phylogeography is the study of the historical processes that may be responsible for the contemporary geographic distributions of individuals. This is accomplished by considering the geographic distribution of individuals in light of the patterns associated with a gene genealogy.This term was...

 does not correspond to their traditional taxonomy. As of 2005, 16 subspecies have been recognized. The subspecies have been listed as follows:
Subspecies name Image Distribution Description
Eurasian brown bear
Eurasian Brown Bear
The Eurasian brown bear is a subspecies of brown bear, found across northern Eurasia. The Eurasian brown bear is also known as the common brown bear, European brown bear and colloquially by many other names....

Europe, Caucasus, Siberia (except the east) and Mongolia A predominantly dark colored (rarely light colored), moderately-sized subspecies with dark claws, the Eurasian browns occurring in Siberia are larger than their European counterparts, as they are hunted less. Where found in Europe, primarily a forest creature
Alaska
Kamchatka brown bear
Kamchatka Brown Bear
The Kamchatka brown bear , also known as the Far Eastern brown bear, is a subspecies of brown bear, native to the Anadyrsky District, the Kamchatka Peninsula, Karaginskiy Island, the Kuril Islands, the coastal strip west of the Sea of Okhotsk southward to the Stanovoy Range and the Shantar Islands...

 (or Far Eastern brown bear)
Kamchatka Peninsula
Kamchatka Peninsula
The Kamchatka Peninsula is a peninsula in the Russian Far East, with an area of . It lies between the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Sea of Okhotsk to the west...

 and Paramushir Island
This is a very large, dark colored form. Light colored forms are encountered less than in European-Siberian subspecies. The claws are dark; it is thought to be the ancestor of U. a. middendorffi.
California golden bear
California golden bear
The California golden bear or California grizzly is an extinct subspecies of the brown bear. The California golden bear disappeared from the state of California in 1922, when the last one was shot in Tulare County....

 (extinct)
– East Siberian brown bear East Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

 from the Yenisei River
Yenisei River
Yenisei , also written as Yenisey, is the largest river system flowing to the Arctic Ocean. It is the central of the three great Siberian rivers that flow into the Arctic Ocean...

 to the Altai Mountains, also occurs in northern Mongolia
A predominantly dark form, it is intermediate in size between U. a. arctos and U. a. beringianus, with a proportionately larger skull.
Atlas bear
Atlas Bear
The Atlas Bear is an extinct subspecies of the Brown Bear, which is sometimes classified as a distinct species.-Range and description:...

 (extinct)
Grizzly bear
Grizzly Bear
The grizzly bear , also known as the silvertip bear, the grizzly, or the North American brown bear, is a subspecies of brown bear that generally lives in the uplands of western North America...

Western Canada
Western Canada
Western Canada, also referred to as the Western provinces and commonly as the West, is a region of Canada that includes the four provinces west of the province of Ontario.- Provinces :...

, Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

, and the northwestern United States
Northwestern United States
The Northwestern United States comprise the northwestern states up to the western Great Plains regions of the United States, and consistently include the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, to which part of southeast Alaska is also sometimes included...

, historically existed in Great Plains
Great Plains
The Great Plains are a broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe and grassland, which lies west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. This area covers parts of the U.S...

Grizzlies are identified by a medium to dark brown coat with gray, or "grizzled" tips on the fur. Smaller than the coastal bear, a grizzly typically weighs up to 800 lb (364 kg) in inland areas, with bears in the Yukon region
Yukon
Yukon is the westernmost and smallest of Canada's three federal territories. It was named after the Yukon River. The word Yukon means "Great River" in Gwich’in....

 weighing as little as 350 lb (159 kg). Coastal bears may be nearly twice a mountain grizzly's weight. Highly adaptable: can live in montane pine forests, temperate rainforest, arid scrubland, and prairie.
Himalayan brown bear
Himalayan Brown Bear
The Himalayan Brown Bear , also known as the Himalayan Red Bear, Isabelline Bear or Dzu-Teh, is a subspecies of the Brown Bear. The bear is thought to be the source of the legend of the Yeti....

Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

, Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, and Northern India
Having a reddish-brown or sandy coat color, this bear is smaller than most other brown bears found on the Asian continent.
Ussuri brown bear
Ussuri Brown Bear
The Ussuri brown bear , also known as the black grizzly is a subspecies of the brown bear found in the Ussuri krai, Sakhalin, the Amur Oblast, northward to the Shantar Islands, Iturup Island, northeastern China, the Korean peninsula, Hokkaidō and Kunashiri Island. This subspecies is thought to be...

 (or Amur brown bear, black grizzly or horse bear)
Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

: Southern Kuril Islands
Kuril Islands
The Kuril Islands , in Russia's Sakhalin Oblast region, form a volcanic archipelago that stretches approximately northeast from Hokkaidō, Japan, to Kamchatka, Russia, separating the Sea of Okhotsk from the North Pacific Ocean. There are 56 islands and many more minor rocks. It consists of Greater...

, Sakhalin
Sakhalin
Sakhalin or Saghalien, is a large island in the North Pacific, lying between 45°50' and 54°24' N.It is part of Russia, and is Russia's largest island, and is administered as part of Sakhalin Oblast...

, Maritime territory
Maritime territory
Maritime territory is a term used in international law to denote coastal waters which are not Territorial Waters though in immediate contact with the sea. In the case of Territorial Waters, the dominion of the adjacent state is subject to a limitation. Dominion over maritime territory is not...

, and the Ussuri/Amur river region south of the Stanovoy Range, China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

: northeastern Heilongjiang
Heilongjiang
For the river known in Mandarin as Heilong Jiang, see Amur River' is a province of the People's Republic of China located in the northeastern part of the country. "Heilongjiang" literally means Black Dragon River, which is the Chinese name for the Amur. The one-character abbreviation is 黑...

, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

: Hokkaidō
Hokkaido
, formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso, or Yesso, is Japan's second largest island; it is also the largest and northernmost of Japan's 47 prefectural-level subdivisions. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaido from Honshu, although the two islands are connected by the underwater railway Seikan Tunnel...

This bear is thought to be the ancestor of U. a. horribilis.
Kodiak bear
Kodiak Bear
The Kodiak bear , also known as the Kodiak brown bear or the Alaskan grizzly bear or American brown bear, occupies the islands of the Kodiak Archipelago in South-Western Alaska. Its name in the Alutiiq language is Taquka-aq. It is the largest subspecies of brown bear.- Taxonomy :Taxonomist C.H...

Kodiak
Kodiak Island
Kodiak Island is a large island on the south coast of the U.S. state of Alaska, separated from the Alaska mainland by the Shelikof Strait. The largest island in the Kodiak Archipelago, Kodiak Island is the second largest island in the United States and the 80th largest island in the world, with an...

, Afognak
Afognak
Afognak is an island north of Kodiak Island in the U.S. state of Alaska. It is 43 miles from east to west and 23 miles from north to south and has a land area of , making it the 18th largest island in the United States. The coast is split by many long, narrow bays...

, Shuyak Island
Shuyak Island
Shuyak Island is an island in the northern part of the Kodiak Archipelago in the state of Alaska, USA. It is located just north of Afognak Island, separated from it by the narrow Shuyak Strait. The Stevenson Entrance to Cook Inlet separates it from the Barren Islands further north in the archipelago...

s (Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

)
This is the largest subspecies of brown bear, with other coastal brown bears reaching as big.
– Mexican grizzly bear (extinct) Northern Mexico, including Chihuahua, Coahuila
Coahuila
Coahuila, formally Coahuila de Zaragoza , officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Coahuila de Zaragoza is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico...

, and Sonora
Sonora
Sonora officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Sonora is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 72 municipalities; the capital city is Hermosillo....

, southwestern United States including southern ranges of Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

, and New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

This bear is believed extinct due to cattle ranching in both the United States and Mexico. Distinct in its ability to survive arid conditions, it could live in both montane pine forests of Mexico and canyonlands of Sonoran Desert.
– Tibetan blue bear Western China and Tibet This is a moderately-sized subspecies with long and shaggy fur. Both dark and light variants are encountered, with intermediate colors predominating. The fur around the neck is light, and forms a "collar". The skull is distinguished its relatively flattened choanae, an arch-like curve of the molar row and large teeth.
Baranof Island
Baranof Island
Baranof Island, also sometimes called Baranov Island, Shee or Sitka Island, is an island in the northern Alexander Archipelago in the Alaska Panhandle, in Alaska. The name Baranof was given in 1805 by Imperial Russian Navy captain U. F. Lisianski to honor Alexander Andreyevich Baranov...

Appearing to be more closely related to the polar bear
Polar Bear
The polar bear is a bear native largely within the Arctic Circle encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is the world's largest land carnivore and also the largest bear, together with the omnivorous Kodiak Bear, which is approximately the same size...

 than to other brown bears, this species is called "clade I" by Waits, and others., and is part of the subspecies identified as U. a. sitkensis, by Hall and as U. a. dalli by Kurtén.
Syrian brown bear
Syrian Brown Bear
The Syrian brown bear is a relatively small subspecies of brown bear native to Eurasia.- Distribution :Within the former Soviet Union, it occurs in Transcaucasia, Talysh, Northern Armenia, Abkhazia, Karabakh and Kopet Dag. Outside the ex-USSR, it occurs in Iran, Iraq and Turkey...

Occurs in the trans-Caucasus, Syria, Iraq,Turkey (Asia Minor), Iran, Afghanistan, western Himalayas and the Pamir-Alai and Tien Shan mountains, probable historical presence in Israel The Syrian is a light colored, moderate to small-sized subspecies with light claws.
Marsican brown bear
Marsican Brown Bear
The Marsican Brown Bear , also known as Apennine brown bear, is a highly threatened, unrecognized subspecies of the Brown bear, with a range restricted to Abruzzo National Park and perhaps the Montagne del Morrone in Italy...

 (not officially recognised)
Marsica
Marsica
Marsica is a geographical area in the Abruzzo, central Italy, including 37 comuni in the province of L'Aquila, the most important of which is Avezzano. It is located between the plain of the former Lake Fucino, the National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise, the plain of Carsoli and the valley of...

 (a small zone in Central Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

)

Hybrids

A grizzly–polar bear hybrid (known as a pizzly Bear or grolar bear) is a rare ursid hybrid
Ursid hybrid
An ursid hybrid is an animal with parents from two different species or subspecies of the Ursidae family. Species and subspecies of bear known to have produced offspring with another bear species or subspecies include brown bears, black bears, grizzly bears and polar bears, all of which are...

 resulting from a union of a brown bear and a polar bear
Polar Bear
The polar bear is a bear native largely within the Arctic Circle encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is the world's largest land carnivore and also the largest bear, together with the omnivorous Kodiak Bear, which is approximately the same size...

. It has occurred both in captivity and in the wild. In 2006, the occurrence of this hybrid in nature was confirmed by testing the DNA
DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

 of a strange-looking bear that had been shot in the Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 arctic
Arctic
The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

. Previously, the hybrid had been produced in zoo
Zoo
A zoological garden, zoological park, menagerie, or zoo is a facility in which animals are confined within enclosures, displayed to the public, and in which they may also be bred....

s, and was considered a "cryptid
Cryptozoology
Cryptozoology refers to the search for animals whose existence has not been proven...

" (a hypothesized animal for which there is no scientific proof of existence in the wild).

Formerly considered subspecies

Former
Subspecies Name
Image Distribution Description
Ursus arctos pyrenaicus – Iberian brown bear, sometimes called Cantabrian brown bear
Cantabrian brown bear
Cantabrian brown bear refers to a population of Eurasian brown bears living in the Cantabrian Mountains of Spain. Females weigh, on average, 85kg but can reach a weight of 150kg. Males average 115kg though can weigh as much as 200kg. The bear measures between 1.6 – 2m in length and between 0.90...

, now considered Ursus arctos arctos - European brown bear
See photographs in http://revista.consumer.es/web/es/20050901/pdf/medioambiente.pdfEroski article (in Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, also available in Catalan
Catalan language
Catalan is a Romance language, the national and only official language of Andorra and a co-official language in the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencian Community, where it is known as Valencian , as well as in the city of Alghero, on the Italian island...

, Basque
Basque language
Basque is the ancestral language of the Basque people, who inhabit the Basque Country, a region spanning an area in northeastern Spain and southwestern France. It is spoken by 25.7% of Basques in all territories...

 and Galician
Galician language
Galician is a language of the Western Ibero-Romance branch, spoken in Galicia, an autonomous community located in northwestern Spain, where it is co-official with Castilian Spanish, as well as in border zones of the neighbouring territories of Asturias and Castile and León.Modern Galician and...

)] and in http://www.faunaiberica.org/?page=oso-pardo-ibericoFauna Ibérica. Oso pardo ibérico (Ursus arctos pyrenaicus), in Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

]
Iberian Peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

, primarily the Cantabrian Mountains
Cantabrian Mountains
The Cantabrian Mountains or Cantabrian Range are one of the main systems of mountain ranges in Spain.They extend for more than approximately 180 miles across northern Spain, from the western limit of the Pyrenees to the edges of the Galician Massif close to Galicia, along the coast of the...

 and hills in Galicia, and the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

Until recently, this bear was considered a separate subspecies. Today, it is considered to belong to the U. arctos arctos subspecies. Scientific evidence based on DNA studies would furthermore indicate the European brown bear can be divided into two distinct lineages. "There is a clear division into two main mitochondrial lineages in modern European brown bear populations. These populations are divided into those carrying an eastern lineage (clade IIIa, Leonard et al. 2000), which is composed of Russian, northern Scandinavian and eastern European populations, and those carrying a western lineage (clade I, Leonard et al. 2000), which is composed of two subgroups, one believed to originate from the Iberian Peninsula, including southern Scandinavian bears and the Pyreneean populations; and the other from the Italian–Balkan peninsulas (Taberlet et al. 1994; see however Kohn et al. 1995). In addition, based on the subfossil record in northwestern Moldova and mitochondrial DNA data from modern populations, a Carpathian refuge has also been proposed (Sommer & Benecke 2005; Saarma et al. 2007)."

The brown bear is the largest animal on the Iberian Peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

, although one of the smallest of the brown bears, since males rarely surpass 180 kg and adult females average 130 kg. Their fur varies from a pale cream color to dark brown, but always with a distinctively darker, nearly black tone at the paws and a yellowish tinge at the tip of each hair. The brown bear population is considered endangered
Endangered species
An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters...

 in Spain.

The brown bear population in the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

 stems mostly from bears reintroduced from Slovenia
Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

, with one or two remaining original males.

For further information, see Fundación Oso Pardo, with distribution maps and population from 2008 (in Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

) and DEPANA, with detailed distribution maps and census information from 2009 (in Catalan
Catalan language
Catalan is a Romance language, the national and only official language of Andorra and a co-official language in the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencian Community, where it is known as Valencian , as well as in the city of Alghero, on the Italian island...

). See also Staying out in the cold: glacial refugia and mitochondrial DNA phylogeography in ancient European brown bears, "Molecular Ecology", 2007, and The Cantabrian Brown Bear Ursus arctos arctos at the cAnfab site (in English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

).

Physical description

Brown bears have very large and curved claws, those present on the forelimbs being longer than those on the hind limbs. They may reach 5 to 6 cm (2 to 2.4 in) and sometimes 7 to 10 cm (2.8 to 3.9 in) along the curve. They are generally dark with a light tip, with some forms having completely light claws. Brown bear claws are longer and straighter than those of American black bears. The claws are blunt, while those of a black bear are sharp.

Adults have massive, heavily built concave skulls, which are large in proportion to the body. The forehead is high and rises steeply. The projections of the skull are well developed when compared to those of Asian black bears: the latter have sagittal crest
Sagittal crest
A sagittal crest is a ridge of bone running lengthwise along the midline of the top of the skull of many mammalian and reptilian skulls, among others....

s not exceeding more than 19–20% of the total length of the skull, while the former have sagittal crests comprising up to 40–41% of the skull's length. Skull projections are more weakly developed in females than in males. The braincase is relatively small and elongated. There is a great deal of geographical variation in the skull, and presents itself chiefly in dimensions. Grizzlies, for example, tend to have flatter profiles than European and coastal American brown bears. Skull lengths of Russian bears tend to be 31.5 to 45.5 cm (12.4 to 17.9 in) for males, and 27.5 to 39.7 cm (10.8 to 15.6 in) for females. The width of the zygomatic arch
Zygomatic arch
The zygomatic arch or cheek bone is formed by the zygomatic process of temporal bone and the temporal process of the zygomatic bone , the two being united by an oblique suture; the tendon of the Temporalis passes medial to the arch to gain insertion into the coronoid process...

es in males is 17.5 to 27.7 cm (6.9 to 10.9 in), and 14.7 to 24.7 cm (5.8 to 9.7 in) in females. Brown bears have very strong teeth: the incisors are relatively big and the canine teeth are large, the lower ones being strongly curved. The first three molars of the upper jaw are underdeveloped and single crowned with one root. The second upper molar is smaller than the others, and is usually absent in adults. It is usually lost at an early age, leaving no trace of the alveolus in the jaw. The first three molars of the lower jaw are very weak, and are often lost at an early age. Although they have powerful jaws, brown bear jaws are incapable of breaking large bones with the ease of spotted hyena
Spotted Hyena
The spotted hyena also known as laughing hyena, is a carnivorous mammal of the family Hyaenidae, of which it is the largest extant member. Though the species' prehistoric range included Eurasia extending from Atlantic Europe to China, it now only occurs in all of Africa south of the Sahara save...

s.

The dimensions of brown bears fluctuate very greatly according to sex, age, individual, geographic location, and season. The normal range of physical dimensions for a brown bear is a head-and-body length of 1.7 to 2.8 m (5.6 to 9.2 ft) and a shoulder height of 70 to 153 cm (27.6 to 60.2 in). The tail is relatively short, ranging from 6 to 22 cm (2.4 to 8.7 in) in length. The smallest subspecies is the Eurasian brown bear
Eurasian Brown Bear
The Eurasian brown bear is a subspecies of brown bear, found across northern Eurasia. The Eurasian brown bear is also known as the common brown bear, European brown bear and colloquially by many other names....

 (U. a. arctos), whose mature females weigh as little as 90 kg (198.4 lb). Barely larger, grizzly bear
Grizzly Bear
The grizzly bear , also known as the silvertip bear, the grizzly, or the North American brown bear, is a subspecies of brown bear that generally lives in the uplands of western North America...

s (U. a. horribilis) from the Yukon region (which are a third smaller than most grizzlies) can weigh as little as 100 kg (220.5 lb) in the spring and the Syrian brown bear
Syrian Brown Bear
The Syrian brown bear is a relatively small subspecies of brown bear native to Eurasia.- Distribution :Within the former Soviet Union, it occurs in Transcaucasia, Talysh, Northern Armenia, Abkhazia, Karabakh and Kopet Dag. Outside the ex-USSR, it occurs in Iran, Iraq and Turkey...

 (U. a. syriacus), with mature females weighing as little as 150 kg (330.7 lb). The largest subspecies are the Kodiak bear
Kodiak Bear
The Kodiak bear , also known as the Kodiak brown bear or the Alaskan grizzly bear or American brown bear, occupies the islands of the Kodiak Archipelago in South-Western Alaska. Its name in the Alutiiq language is Taquka-aq. It is the largest subspecies of brown bear.- Taxonomy :Taxonomist C.H...

 (U. a. middendorffi) and the Kamchatka brown bear
Kamchatka Brown Bear
The Kamchatka brown bear , also known as the Far Eastern brown bear, is a subspecies of brown bear, native to the Anadyrsky District, the Kamchatka Peninsula, Karaginskiy Island, the Kuril Islands, the coastal strip west of the Sea of Okhotsk southward to the Stanovoy Range and the Shantar Islands...

 (U. a. beringianus), although bears from other coastal regions of eastern Asia and western North America can be comparably large. It is not unusual for large males in coastal regions to stand over 3.1 m (10.2 ft) tall while on their hind legs and to weigh up to 680 kg (1,499.1 lb). The heaviest recorded brown bear weighed over 1150 kilograms (2,535.3 lb). Most brown bears fall somewhere between these extreme high and low weights, although even the relatively small Eurasian brown bear
Eurasian Brown Bear
The Eurasian brown bear is a subspecies of brown bear, found across northern Eurasia. The Eurasian brown bear is also known as the common brown bear, European brown bear and colloquially by many other names....

 can weigh up to 481 kg (1,060.4 lb).

Brown bears have long, thick fur, with a moderately long mane at the back of the neck. In India, brown bears can be reddish with silver tips, while in China, brown bears are bicolored with a yellow-brown or whitish cape across the shoulders. North American grizzlies can be dark brown (almost black) to cream (almost white) or yellowish brown. Black hairs usually have white tips. The winter fur is very thick and long, especially in northern subspecies, and can reach 11 to 12 cm (4.3 to 4.7 in) at the withers
Withers
The withers is the ridge between the shoulder blades of a four-legged animal. In many species it is the tallest point of the body, and in horses and dogs it is the standard place to measure the animal's height .-Horses:The withers in horses are formed by the dorsal spinal processes of roughly the...

. The winter hairs are thin, yet rough to the touch. The summer fur is much shorter and sparser, and its length and density varies geographically.

Distribution and habitat

There are about 200,000 brown bears in the world. The largest populations are in Russia with 120,000, the United States with 32,500, and Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 with 21,750. About 95% of the brown bear population in the United States is in Alaska, though in the lower 48 states, they are repopulating slowly but steadily along the Rockies
Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico, in the southwestern United States...

 and the western Great Plains
Great Plains
The Great Plains are a broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe and grassland, which lies west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. This area covers parts of the U.S...

. Although many people hold the belief some brown bears may be present in Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and the Atlas Mountains
Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains is a mountain range across a northern stretch of Africa extending about through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The highest peak is Toubkal, with an elevation of in southwestern Morocco. The Atlas ranges separate the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert...

 of Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, both are almost certainly extinct. The last Mexican brown bear was shot in 1960. In Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, there are 14,000 brown bears in ten fragmented populations, from Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 (estimated at only 20-25 animals in the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

 in 2010, in a range shared between France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and Andorra
Andorra
Andorra , officially the Principality of Andorra , also called the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra, , is a small landlocked country in southwestern Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France. It is the sixth smallest nation in Europe having an area of...

, and some 85-90 animals in Asturias
Asturias
The Principality of Asturias is an autonomous community of the Kingdom of Spain, coextensive with the former Kingdom of Asturias in the Middle Ages...

, Cantabria
Cantabria
Cantabria is a Spanish historical region and autonomous community with Santander as its capital city. It is bordered on the east by the Basque Autonomous Community , on the south by Castile and León , on the west by the Principality of Asturias, and on the north by the Cantabrian Sea.Cantabria...

, Galicia and León, in the Picos de Europa
Picos de Europa
The Picos de Europa is a range of mountains 20 km inland from the northern coast of Spain, located in the Autonomous Communities of Asturias, Cantabria and Castile and León, forming part of the Cantabrian Mountains...

 and adjacent areas in 2003 and some 100 animals in 2005) in the west, to Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 in the east, and from Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 in the north to Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 (4000–5000), Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

 (900–1200), Slovakia
Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

 (with about 600–800 animals), Slovenia
Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

 (500-700 animals) and Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 (with about 200 animals) in the south. They are extinct in the British Isles
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...

, extremely threatened in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, and in trouble over most of Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

. The Carpathian brown bear population of Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 is the largest in Europe outside Russia, estimated at 4,500 to 5,000 bears, although declining alarmingly due to overhunting. There is also a smaller brown bear population in the Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 (estimated at about 200 in 2005), Slovakia
Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

 and Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 (estimated at about 100 in 2009 in the latter country). The total Carpathian population is estimated at about 8,000. Northern Europe
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

 is home to a large bear population, with an estimated 2,500 (range 2,350–2,900) in Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, about 1,600 in Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, about 700 in Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

 and 70 in Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

. Another large and relatively stable population of brown bears in Europe, consisting of 2,500–3,000 individuals, is the Dinaric-Pindos (Balkans) population, with contiguous distribution in northeast Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Slovenia
Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

, Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the...

, Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

, Montenegro
Montenegro
Montenegro Montenegrin: Crna Gora Црна Гора , meaning "Black Mountain") is a country located in Southeastern Europe. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the south-west and is bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast and Albania to the...

, Macedonia, Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

 and Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

.

Brown bears were once native to Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, the Atlas Mountains
Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains is a mountain range across a northern stretch of Africa extending about through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The highest peak is Toubkal, with an elevation of in southwestern Morocco. The Atlas ranges separate the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert...

 in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, and North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, but are now extinct in some areas, and their populations have greatly decreased in other areas. They prefer semiopen country, usually in mountainous areas.

Brown bears live in Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

, east through the Yukon and Northwest Territories
Northwest Territories
The Northwest Territories is a federal territory of Canada.Located in northern Canada, the territory borders Canada's two other territories, Yukon to the west and Nunavut to the east, and three provinces: British Columbia to the southwest, and Alberta and Saskatchewan to the south...

, south through British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

 and through the western half of Alberta
Alberta
Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...

. Small populations exist in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is one of the last remaining large, nearly intact ecosystems in the northern temperate zone of the Earth and is partly located in Yellowstone National Park. Conflict over management has been controversial, and the area is a flagship site among conservation groups...

 of northwest Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

 (with about 600 animals), the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem of northwest Montana
Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

 (with about 750 animals), the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem of northwest Montana and northeast Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

 (with about 30–40 animals), the Selkirk Ecosystem of northeast Washington
Washington State
Washington State may refer to:* Washington , often referred to as "Washington state" to differentiate it from Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States* Washington State University, a land-grant college in that state- See also :...

 and northwest Idaho (with about 40–50 animals), and the North Cascades Ecosystem of northcentral Washington (with about 5–10 animals). These five ecosystems combine for a total of roughly 1,470 wild grizzlies still persisting in the contiguous United States. Unfortunately, these populations are isolated from each other, inhibiting any genetic flow between ecosystems. This poses one of the greatest threats to the future survival of the grizzly bear in the contiguous United States.

In Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, brown bears are found in most of Russia, parts of the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

, and in a small area of Manchuria
Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

 in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. They can also be found on the island of Hokkaidō
Hokkaido
, formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso, or Yesso, is Japan's second largest island; it is also the largest and northernmost of Japan's 47 prefectural-level subdivisions. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaido from Honshu, although the two islands are connected by the underwater railway Seikan Tunnel...

 in Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, western China, and parts of North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 and India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

.

The population of brown bears in the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

 mountain range between France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 is so low, estimated at 14 to 18, with a shortage of females, that bears, mostly female, from Slovenia
Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

 were released in spring 2006 to reduce the imbalance and preserve the species' presence in the area, despite protests from French farmers.

A small population of brown bears (Ursus arctos marsicanus) still lives in central Italy (Apennine mountains, Abruzzo and Latium), with no more than 70 individuals, protected by strong laws, but endangered by the human presence in the area.

In Arctic
Arctic
The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

 areas, the potential habitat of the brown bear is increasing. The warming of that region
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

 has allowed the species to move farther north into what was once exclusively the domain of the polar bear
Polar Bear
The polar bear is a bear native largely within the Arctic Circle encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is the world's largest land carnivore and also the largest bear, together with the omnivorous Kodiak Bear, which is approximately the same size...

. In non-Arctic areas, habitat loss is blamed as the leading cause of endangerment, followed by hunting.

North American brown bears, or grizzly bears, seem to prefer open landscapes, whereas in Eurasia they inhabit mostly dense forests. It is thought the Eurasian bears which colonized America were tundra
Tundra
In physical geography, tundra is a biome where the tree growth is hindered by low temperatures and short growing seasons. The term tundra comes through Russian тундра from the Kildin Sami word tūndâr "uplands," "treeless mountain tract." There are three types of tundra: Arctic tundra, alpine...

-adapted. This is indicated by brown bears in the Chukotka Peninsula on the Asian side of Bering Strait, which are the only Asian brown bears to live year-round in lowland tundra like their North American cousins.

Behavior

The brown bear is primarily nocturnal. In the summer, it gains up to 180 kilograms (396.8 lb) of fat
Fat
Fats consist of a wide group of compounds that are generally soluble in organic solvents and generally insoluble in water. Chemically, fats are triglycerides, triesters of glycerol and any of several fatty acids. Fats may be either solid or liquid at room temperature, depending on their structure...

, on which it relies to make it through winter, when it becomes very lethargic. Although they are not full hibernators
Hibernation
Hibernation is a state of inactivity and metabolic depression in animals, characterized by lower body temperature, slower breathing, and lower metabolic rate. Hibernating animals conserve food, especially during winter when food supplies are limited, tapping energy reserves, body fat, at a slow rate...

, and can be woken easily; both sexes like to den
Maternity den
A maternity den, in the animal kingdom, is a lair where the mother gives birth and nurtures the young, when they are in a vulnerable life stage. While such dens are typically subterranean, they may also be snow caves or simply beneath rock ledges. Characteristically there is an entrance, and...

 in a protected spot, such as a cave
Cave
A cave or cavern is a natural underground space large enough for a human to enter. The term applies to natural cavities some part of which is in total darkness. The word cave also includes smaller spaces like rock shelters, sea caves, and grottos.Speleology is the science of exploration and study...

, crevice, or hollow log, during the winter months. Brown bears are mostly solitary, although they may gather in large numbers at major food sources and form social hierarchies based on age and size. Adult male bears are particularly aggressive and are avoided by adolescent and subadult males. Female bears with cubs rival adult males in aggression, and are more intolerant of other bears than single females. Young adolescent males tend to be least aggressive, and have been observed in nonagonistic interactions with each other. Dominance between bears is asserted by making a frontal orientation, showing off canines, muzzle twisting and neck stretching to which a subordinate will respond with a lateral orientation, by turning away and dropping the head and by sitting or laying down. During combat, bears use their paws to strike their opponents in the chest or shoulders and bite the head or neck. In his Great Bear Almanac, Gary Brown lists 11 different sounds bears produce in 9 different contexts. Sounds expressing anger or aggravation include growls, roars, woofs, champs and smacks, while sounds expressing nervousness or pain include woofs, grunts and bawls. Sows will bleat or hum when communicating with their cubs.

Reproduction

The mating season is from late May to early July. Being serially monogamous, brown bears remain with the same mate from several days to a couple of weeks. Females mature sexually between the age of 5 and 7 years, while males usually mate a few years later, when they are large and strong enough to successfully compete with other males for mating rights.
Males, however, take no part in raising their cubs – parenting is left entirely to the females.

Through the process of delayed implantation, a female's fertilized egg divides and floats freely in the uterus for six months. During winter dormancy, the fetus attaches to the uterine
Uterus
The uterus or womb is a major female hormone-responsive reproductive sex organ of most mammals including humans. One end, the cervix, opens into the vagina, while the other is connected to one or both fallopian tubes, depending on the species...

 wall. The cubs are born eight weeks later, while the mother sleeps. If the mother does not gain enough weight to survive through the winter, the embryo does not implant and is reabsorbed into the body. The average litter has one to four cubs, usually two. There have been cases of bears with five cubs, although females sometimes adopt stray cubs. Older females tend to give birth to larger litters. The size of a litter also depends on factors such as geographic location and food supply. At birth, the cubs are blind, toothless, hairless, and weigh less than 450 gram (0.992080179831949 lb). They feed on their mother's milk until spring or even early summer, depending on climate conditions. At this time, the cubs weigh 7 to 9 kg (15.4 to 19.8 lb) and have developed enough to follow her and begin to forage for solid food.

Cubs remain with their mother from two to four years, during which time they learn survival techniques, such as which foods have the highest nutritional values and where to obtain them; how to hunt, fish, and defend themselves; and where to den. The cubs learn by following and imitating their mother's actions during the period they are with her. Brown bears practice infanticide
Infanticide (zoology)
In animals, infanticide involves the killing of young offspring by a mature animal of its own species, and is studied in zoology, specifically in the field of ethology. Ovicide is the analogous destruction of eggs. Although human infanticide has been widely studied, the practice has been observed...

. An adult male bear may kill the cubs of another bear either to make the female sexually receptive or simply for consumption. Cubs flee up a tree when they see a strange male bear, and the mother defends them, even though the male may be twice her size.

Dietary habits

They are omnivore
Omnivore
Omnivores are species that eat both plants and animals as their primary food source...

s and feed on a variety of plant products, including berries, root
Root
In vascular plants, the root is the organ of a plant that typically lies below the surface of the soil. This is not always the case, however, since a root can also be aerial or aerating . Furthermore, a stem normally occurring below ground is not exceptional either...

s, and sprout
Shoot
Shoots are new plant growth, they can include stems, flowering stems with flower buds, and leaves. The new growth from seed germination that grows upward is a shoot where leaves will develop...

s, and fungi, as well as meat products such as fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

, insect
Insect
Insects are a class of living creatures within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body , three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae...

s, and small mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

s. Despite their reputation, most brown bears are not highly carnivorous, as they derive up to 90% of their dietary food energy
Food energy
Food energy is the amount of energy obtained from food that is available through cellular respiration.Food energy is expressed in food calories or kilojoules...

 from vegetable matter. Their jaw structure has evolved to fit their dietary habits. Their diet varies enormously throughout their differing areas based on opportunity. For example, bears in Yellowstone eat an enormous number of moth
Moth
A moth is an insect closely related to the butterfly, both being of the order Lepidoptera. Moths form the majority of this order; there are thought to be 150,000 to 250,000 different species of moth , with thousands of species yet to be described...

s during the summer, sometimes as many as 40,000 in a day, and may derive up to half of their annual food energy from these insects. In the Kamchatka peninsula and parts of coastal Alaska, brown bears feed mostly on spawning salmon
Salmon
Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the same family are called trout; the difference is often said to be that salmon migrate and trout are resident, but this distinction does not strictly hold true...

, whose nutrition and abundance explain the enormous size of the bears in these areas, though, these bears very rarely hunt large animals. Brown bears also occasionally prey on large mammals, such as deer
Deer
Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. Species in the Cervidae family include white-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, reindeer, fallow deer, roe deer and chital. Male deer of all species and female reindeer grow and shed new antlers each year...

 (including elk
Elk
The Elk is the large deer, also called Cervus canadensis or wapiti, of North America and eastern Asia.Elk may also refer to:Other antlered mammals:...

, moose
Moose
The moose or Eurasian elk is the largest extant species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the palmate antlers of the males; other members of the family have antlers with a dendritic configuration...

 and caribou), bighorn sheep
Bighorn Sheep
The bighorn sheep is a species of sheep in North America named for its large horns. These horns can weigh up to , while the sheep themselves weigh up to . Recent genetic testing indicates that there are three distinct subspecies of Ovis canadensis, one of which is endangered: Ovis canadensis sierrae...

, mountain goat
Mountain goat
The Mountain Goat , also known as the Rocky Mountain Goat, is a large-hoofed mammal found only in North America. Despite its vernacular name, it is not a member of Capra, the genus of true goats...

s, bison
Bison
Members of the genus Bison are large, even-toed ungulates within the subfamily Bovinae. Two extant and four extinct species are recognized...

 and muskoxen. When brown bears attack these animals, they tend to choose the young ones, as they are easier to catch. When hunting, the bear pins its prey to the ground and then tears and eats it alive. On rare occasions, bears kill by hitting their prey with their powerful forearms, which can break the necks and backs of large prey, such as moose. They also feed on carrion
Carrion
Carrion refers to the carcass of a dead animal. Carrion is an important food source for large carnivores and omnivores in most ecosystems. Examples of carrion-eaters include vultures, hawks, eagles, hyenas, Virginia Opossum, Tasmanian Devils, coyotes, Komodo dragons, and burying beetles...

, and use their size to intimidate other predators, such as wolves, cougars, tiger
Tiger
The tiger is the largest cat species, reaching a total body length of up to and weighing up to . Their most recognizable feature is a pattern of dark vertical stripes on reddish-orange fur with lighter underparts...

s, and black bears from their kills.

Interspecific predatory relationships

Brown bears often use their large size for intimidation when a kill or a territory is in dispute with another large predator and they are normally dominant in such interactions. Sometimes, the conflict will escalate to the point of violence, but usually threat displays are sufficient, since most animals try to avoid potential bodily harm. However, the massive strength and size of the brown bear will usually result in it winning violent conflicts, even against wolf packs and Siberian Tigers. In situations where the interspecies conflict turns deadly, brown bears may also eat the competitor, despite it not being the primary reason for attack.

Brown bears regularly intimidate wolves away from their kills. In Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park, established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, is a national park located primarily in the U.S. state of Wyoming, although it also extends into Montana and Idaho...

, brown bears pirate wolf kills so often, Yellowstone's Wolf Project Director Doug Smith wrote, "It's not a matter of if the bears will come calling after a kill, but when." Though conflict over carcasses is common, on rare occasions the two predators tolerate each other on the same kill. Given the opportunity, both species prey on the other's cubs. Conclusively, the individual power of the bear against the collective strength of the wolf pack usually results in a long battle for kills or domination. In some areas, the brown bear also regularly displaces cougars from their kills.

Adult bears are generally immune from predatory attacks from anything other than other bears. Some bears emerging from hibernation seek tigers to steal their kills. Indeed, Russian researchers have identified "satellite bears" who "follow tigers over extensive periods of time, sequentially usurping kills"; these bears were observed tracking tigers in spring snow and regularly usurped their kills. In the Russian Far East
Russian Far East
Russian Far East is a term that refers to the Russian part of the Far East, i.e., extreme east parts of Russia, between Lake Baikal in Eastern Siberia and the Pacific Ocean...

, brown bears along with smaller Asiatic black bear
Asiatic Black Bear
The Asian black bear , also known as the moon bear or white-chested bear is a medium-sized species of bear, largely adapted for arboreal life, which occurs through much of southern Asia, Korea, northeastern China, the Russian far east and Honshū and Shikoku islands of Japan...

s constitute 5–8% of the diet of Siberian tigers. In particular, the brown bear's input is estimated to be 1.0–1.5% in one source. However, another source states that such attacks are rare and do not have any actual significance because Siberian tigers are almost extinct. Siberian tigers most typically attack brown bears in the winter in the hibernaculum or in the late autumn and early spring, and when ungulate populations decrease. Adult bears, generally smaller ones, are sometimes vulnerable to tiger attacks and have been killed in their dens in winter, with the tiger taking advantage of the bear's hibernating condition. There are also records of bears killing tigers, including fully grown adult males and tigers whose sex and age were not specified, either in self-defense, or in disputes over kills or for consumption.

Brown bears usually dominate other bear species in areas where they coexist. Due to their smaller size, American black bear
American black bear
The American black bear is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent's smallest and most common bear species. Black bears are omnivores, with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in...

s are at a competitive disadvantage to brown bears in open, unforested areas. Although displacement of black bears by brown bears has been documented, actual interspecific killing of black bears by brown bears has only occasionally been reported. Confrontation is mostly avoided due to the black bear's diurnal habits and preference for heavily forested areas, as opposed to the brown bear's largely nocturnal habits and preference for open spaces. Brown bears may attack Asian black bears. They will eat the fruit dropped by the latter species from trees, as they themselves are too large and cumbersome to climb.

There has been a recent increase in interactions between brown bears and polar bear
Polar Bear
The polar bear is a bear native largely within the Arctic Circle encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is the world's largest land carnivore and also the largest bear, together with the omnivorous Kodiak Bear, which is approximately the same size...

s, theorized to be caused by climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

. Brown bears have been seen moving increasingly northward into territories formerly claimed by polar bears. Brown bears tend to dominate polar bears in disputes over carcasses, and dead polar bear cubs have been found in brown bear dens.

Relationship with humans

Bears become attracted to human-created food sources, such as garbage dumps, litter bins, and dumpsters; they venture into human dwellings or barn
Barn
A barn is an agricultural building used for storage and as a covered workplace. It may sometimes be used to house livestock or to store farming vehicles and equipment...

s in search of food as humans encroach into bear habitats. In the U.S., bears sometimes kill and eat farm animals. When bears come to associate human activity with a "food reward", they are likely to continue to become emboldened; the likelihood of human-bear encounters increases, as they may return to the same location despite relocation. The saying, "a fed bear is a dead bear", has come into use to popularize the idea that allowing bears to scavenge human garbage, such as trash cans and campers' backpacks, pet food
Pet food
Pet food is plant or animal material intended for consumption by pets. Typically sold in pet stores and supermarkets, it is usually specific to the type of animal, such as dog food or cat food...

, or other food sources that draw the bear into contact with humans, can result in a bear's death.

Relocation of the bear has been used to separate the bear from the human environment, but it does not address the problem of the bear's newly-learned association of humans with food or the environmental situations which created the human-habituated bear. "Placing a bear in habitat used by other bears may lead to competition and social conflict, and result in the injury or death of the less dominant bear."

Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park, established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, is a national park located primarily in the U.S. state of Wyoming, although it also extends into Montana and Idaho...

, an enormous reserve located in the western United States, contains prime habitat for the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis), and due to the enormous number of visitors, human-bear encounters are common. The scenic beauty of the area has led to an influx of people moving into the area. In addition, because there are so many bear relocations to the same remote areas of Yellowstone, and because male bears tend to dominate the center of the relocation zone, female bears tend to be pushed to the boundaries of the region and beyond. As a result, a large proportion of repeat offenders, bears that are killed for public safety, are females. This creates a further depressive effect on an already endangered species. The grizzly bear is officially described as "threatened" in the U.S. Though the problem is most significant with regard to grizzlies, these issues affect the other types of brown bears as well.

In Europe, part of the problem lies with shepherd
Shepherd
A shepherd is a person who tends, feeds or guards flocks of sheep.- Origins :Shepherding is one of the oldest occupations, beginning some 6,000 years ago in Asia Minor. Sheep were kept for their milk, meat and especially their wool...

s; over the past two centuries, many sheep and goat herders have gradually abandoned the more traditional practice of using dog
Dog
The domestic dog is a domesticated form of the gray wolf, a member of the Canidae family of the order Carnivora. The term is used for both feral and pet varieties. The dog may have been the first animal to be domesticated, and has been the most widely kept working, hunting, and companion animal in...

s to guard flocks, which have concurrently grown larger. Typically, they allow the herds to graze freely over sizeable tracts of land. As bears reclaim parts of their range, they may eat livestock. In some cases, the shepherds shoot the bear, thinking their livelihood is under threat. Many are now better informed about the ample compensation available, and will make a claim when they lose livestock to a bear.

Legal status

  • The grizzly bear, sometimes called the silvertip bear, is listed as threatened in the contiguous United States
    Contiguous United States
    The contiguous United States are the 48 U.S. states on the continent of North America that are south of Canada and north of Mexico, plus the District of Columbia....

    . It is slowly repopulating in areas where it was previously extirpated, though it is still vulnerable.
  • The California golden bear (Ursus arctos californicus) disappeared from the state of California
    California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

     in 1922, when the last one was shot in Tulare County
    Tulare County, California
    Tulare County is a county located in the Central Valley of the U.S. state of California, south of Fresno. Sequoia National Park is located in the county, as are part of Kings Canyon National Park, in its northeast corner , and part of Mount Whitney, on its eastern border...

    . It is the official state animal.
  • The Mexican grizzly bear is listed as an endangered species
    Endangered species
    An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters...

    , but it may be extinct.
  • In Canada, it is listed as vulnerable in Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, and Yukon Territory. Prairie populations of grizzly bear are listed as extirpated in Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.
  • The brown bear is a European Protected Species
    European Protected Species
    European Protected Species are species of plants and animals protected by law throughout the European Union. They are listed in Annexes II and IV of the European Habitats Directive....

    , given protection throughout the European Union
    European Union
    The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

    .
  • The brown bear is also the national animal of Finland
    Finland
    Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

    .
  • The brown bear is depicted on the reverse of the Croatian 5 kuna
    Croatian kuna
    The kuna is the currency of Croatia since 1994 . It is subdivided into 100 lipa. The kuna is issued by the Croatian National Bank and the coins are minted by the Croatian Monetary Institute....

     coin, minted since 1993.

Bear encounters

There are an average of two fatal attacks by bears per year in North America. In Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

, there are only four known cases since 1902 of bear encounters which have resulted in death. The two most common causes for bear attack are surprise and curiosity. Some types of bears, such as polar bears, are more likely to attack humans when searching for food, while American black bear
American black bear
The American black bear is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent's smallest and most common bear species. Black bears are omnivores, with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in...

s are much less likely to attack.

The Alaska Science Center ranks the following as the most likely reasons for bear attacks:
  1. Surprise
  2. Curiosity
  3. Invaded personal space (this includes a mother bear protecting her young)
  4. Predatory intent
  5. Hunting wounded
  6. Carcass defense
  7. Provoked charge


Aggressive behavior in brown bears is favored by numerous selection variables. Unlike the smaller black bears, adult brown bears are too large to escape danger by climbing trees, so they respond to danger by standing their ground and warding off their attackers. Increased aggressiveness also assists female brown bears in better ensuring the survival of their young to reproductive age. Mothers defending cubs are the most prone to attacking, being responsible for 70% of brown bear-caused human fatalities in North America.

Attacks on humans

As a rule, brown bears seldom attack humans on sight, and usually avoid people. They are, however, unpredictable in temperament, and will attack if they are surprised or feel threatened. Sows with cubs account for the majority of injuries and fatalities in North America. Habituated
Habituation
Habituation can be defined as a process or as a procedure. As a process it is defined as a decrease in an elicited behavior resulting from the repeated presentation of an eliciting stimulus...

 or food-conditioned bears can also be dangerous, as their long-term exposure to humans causes them to lose their natural shyness, and, in some cases, to associate humans with food. Small parties of one or two people are more often attacked than large groups, with only one known case of an attack on a group of six or more. In that instance, it is thought that due to surprise the bear may not have recognized the size of the group. In contrast to injuries caused by American black bears, which are usually minor, brown bear attacks tend to result in serious injury and, in some cases, death. In the majority of attacks resulting in injury, brown bears precede the attack with a growl or huffing sound, and seem to confront humans as they would when fighting other bears: they rise up on their hind legs, and attempt to "disarm" their victims by biting and holding on to the lower jaw to avoid being bitten in turn. Due to the bears' enormous physical strength, even a single bite or swipe can be deadly, as in tigers, with some human victims having had their heads completely crushed by a bear bite. Most attacks occur in the months of July, August and September, the time when the number of outdoor recreationalists, such as hikers or hunters, is higher. People who assert their presence through noises tend to be less vulnerable, as they alert bears to their presence. In direct confrontations, people who run are statistically more likely to be attacked than those who stand their ground. Violent encounters with brown bears usually last only a few minutes, though they can be prolonged if the victims fight back.

Attacks on humans are considered extremely rare in the former Soviet Union, though exceptions exist in districts where they are not pursued by hunters. Siberian bears, for example, tend to be much bolder toward humans than their shyer, more persecuted European counterparts. In 2008, a platinum
Platinum
Platinum is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pt and an atomic number of 78. Its name is derived from the Spanish term platina del Pinto, which is literally translated into "little silver of the Pinto River." It is a dense, malleable, ductile, precious, gray-white transition metal...

 mining compound in the Olyotorsky district of northern Kamchatka was besieged by a group of 30 bears, who killed two guards and prevented workers from leaving their homes. Ten people a year are killed by brown bears in Russia. In Scandinavia, only three fatal attacks were recorded in the 20th century.

In Japan, a large brown bear nicknamed "Kesagake" (袈裟懸け, "kesa
Kesa (clothing)
Kāṣāya are the robes of Buddhist monks and nuns, named after a brown or saffron dye. In Sanskrit and Pali, these robes are also given the more general term cīvara, which references the robes without regard to color....

-style slasher") made history for causing the worst bear attack in Japanese history
Sankebetsu brown bear incident
The , also referred to as the or the was the worst bear attack in Japanese history, killing seven settlers in Rokusensawa, Sankebetsu, Tomamae, Rumoi, Hokkaidō, Japan....

 at Tomamae, Hokkaidō
Tomamae, Hokkaido
is a town located in Tomamae District, Rumoi, Hokkaidō, Japan. It is typical of the small coastal towns that line the western coast of Hokkaidō.-Demographics:...

 during numerous encounters in December, 1915. It killed seven people (including one pregnant woman) and wounded three others (with possibly another three previous fatalities to its credit) before being gunned down after a large-scale beast-hunt. Today, there is still a shrine at Rokusensawa (六線沢), where the event took place, in memory of the victims of the incident.

Native American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 tribes sympatric to brown bears often viewed them with a mixture of awe and fear. North American brown bears were so feared by the Natives, they were rarely hunted, especially alone. When Natives hunted grizzlies, the act was done with the same preparation and ceremoniality as intertribal warfare, and was never done except with a company of 4–10 warriors. The tribe members who dealt the killing blow were highly esteemed among their compatriots. Californian Indians actively avoided prime bear habitat, and would not allow their young men to hunt alone, for fear of bear attacks. During the Spanish colonial period, some tribes, instead of hunting grizzlies themselves, would seek aid from European colonists to deal with problem bears. Many authors in the American west wrote of Natives or voyagers with lacerated faces and missing noses or eyes due to attacks from grizzlies. Within Yellowstone National Park, injuries caused by grizzly attacks in developed areas averaged approximately one per year during the 1930s through to the 1950s, though it increased to four per year during the 1960s. They then decreased to one injury every two years during the 1970s. Between 1980 and 2002, there have been only two human injuries caused by grizzly bears in a developed area. Though grizzly attacks were rare in the backcountry before 1970, the number of attacks increased to an average of approximately one per year during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.

History of defense from bears

A study by Canadian and US researchers has found pepper spray
Pepper spray
Pepper spray, also known as OC spray , OC gas, and capsicum spray, is a lachrymatory agent that is used in riot control, crowd control and personal self-defense, including defense against dogs and bears...

 to be more effective at stopping aggressive bear behavior than guns, working in 92% of studied incidents versus 67% for guns. Carrying pepper spray is highly recommended by many authorities when traveling in bear country; however, carrying two means of deterrent, one of which is a large caliber gun, is also advised. Solid shotgun slugs, or three buckshot rounds, or a semiautomatic pistol of .45 caliber or more is suggested if a heavy hunting rifle is not available. Guns remain a viable, last resort option to be used in defense of life from aggressive bears. Too often, people do not carry a proper caliber weapon to neutralize the bear. According to the Alaska Science Center, a 12 gauge
Gauge (bore diameter)
The gauge of a firearm is a unit of measurement used to express the diameter of the barrel. Gauge is determined from the weight of a solid sphere of lead that will fit the bore of the firearm, and is expressed as the multiplicative inverse of the sphere's weight as a fraction of a pound . Thus...

 shotgun
Shotgun
A shotgun is a firearm that is usually designed to be fired from the shoulder, which uses the energy of a fixed shell to fire a number of small spherical pellets called shot, or a solid projectile called a slug...

 with slugs
Slug (projectile)
A slug is a term used for a solid ballistic projectile. It is "solid" in the sense of being composed of one piece; the shape can vary widely, including partially hollowed shapes...

 has been the most effective weapon. There have been fewer injuries as a result of only carrying lethal loads in the shotgun, as opposed to deterrent rounds. State of Alaska Defense of Life or Property (DLP) laws require one to report the kill to authorities, and salvage the hide, skull, and claws.

Campers are often told to wear bright colored red ribbons and bells, and carry whistles to ward off bears. They are told to look for grizzly scat in camping areas, and be careful to carry the bells and whistles in those areas. Grizzly scat is difficult to differentiate from black bear scat, as diet is in a constant state of flux depending on the availability of seasonal food items. If a bear is killed near camp, the bear's carcass must be adequately disposed of, including entrails and blood, if possible. Failure to move the carcass has often resulted in it attracting other bears and further exacerbating a bad situation. Moving camps immediately is another recommended method.

State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources website states, "Select a gun that will stop a bear (12-gauge shotgun or .300 mag rifle)."

Culture

Many Native American tribes both respected and feared the brown bear, even thinking of it as a god. One tale tells of how the black bear was a creation of the Great Spirit
Great Spirit
The Great Spirit, also called Wakan Tanka among the Sioux, the Creator or the Great Maker in English, and Gitchi Manitou in Algonquian, is a conception of a supreme being prevalent among some Native American and First Nations cultures...

, while the grizzly was created by the Evil Spirit. In Kwakiutl
Kwakiutl
The term Kwakiutl, historically applied to the entire Kwakwaka'wakw ethno-linguistic group of originally 28 tribes, comes from one of the Kwakwaka'wakw tribes, the Kwagu'ł or Kwagyeulth, at Fort Rupert, with whom Franz Boas did most of his anthropological work and whose Indian Act Band government...

 mythology, black and brown bears became enemies when Grizzly Bear Woman killed Black Bear Woman for being lazy. Black Bear Woman's children, in turn, killed Grizzly Bear Woman's own cubs.

The grizzly bear
Grizzly Bear
The grizzly bear , also known as the silvertip bear, the grizzly, or the North American brown bear, is a subspecies of brown bear that generally lives in the uplands of western North America...

 is the state animal of both Montana
Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

 and California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

.

Brown bears often figure into the literature of Europe and North America, in particular that which is written for children. "The Brown Bear of Norway
The Brown Bear of Norway
The Brown Bear of Norway is a Scottish fairy tale collected by Fitzroy MacLean in West Highland Tales. Andrew Lang included it in The Lilac Fairy Book.It is Aarne-Thompson type 425A, the search for the lost husband...

" is a Scottish
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 fairy tale
Fairy tale
A fairy tale is a type of short story that typically features such folkloric characters, such as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, dwarves, giants or gnomes, and usually magic or enchantments. However, only a small number of the stories refer to fairies...

 telling the adventures of a girl who married a prince magically turned into a bear, and who managed to get him back into a human form by the force of her love and after many trials and difficulties. With "Goldilocks and the Three Bears", a story from England, the three bears are usually depicted as brown bears. In German speaking countries, children are often told the fairytale of Snow White and Rose Red; the handsome prince in this tale has been transfigured into a brown bear. In the United States, parents often read their preschool age children the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is a children's picture book, published in 1967, written and illustrated by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle, and the book is designed to help toddlers associate colors and meanings to objects. The book itself has little to no plot...

 to teach them their colors and how they are associated with different animals.

The Russian bear
Russian Bear
The Russian Bear is a national personification for Russia, used in cartoons, articles and dramatic plays at least since the 17th century, and relating alike to Tsarist Russia, the Soviet Union and the present-day Russian Federation....

 is a common national personification
National personification
A national personification is an anthropomorphization of a nation or its people; it can appear in both editorial cartoons and propaganda.Some early personifications in the Western world tended to be national manifestations of the majestic wisdom and war goddess Minerva/Athena, and often took the...

 for Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 (as well as the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

). The brown bear is also Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

's and Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

's national animal.

The school mascot for Brown University
Brown University
Brown University is a private, Ivy League university located in Providence, Rhode Island, United States. Founded in 1764 prior to American independence from the British Empire as the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations early in the reign of King George III ,...

, the University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, Los Angeles
The University of California, Los Angeles is a public research university located in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, USA. It was founded in 1919 as the "Southern Branch" of the University of California and is the second oldest of the ten campuses...

, the University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...

, and the University of Alberta
University of Alberta
The University of Alberta is a public research university located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Founded in 1908 by Alexander Cameron Rutherford, the first premier of Alberta and Henry Marshall Tory, its first president, it is widely recognized as one of the best universities in Canada...

 is the brown bear.

The coat of arms of Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

 depicts a bear reaching up into a madroño or strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) to eat some of its fruit, whereas the Swiss city of Bern's coat of arms also depicts a bear and the city's name is popularly thought to derive from the German word for bear.

In the town of Prats de Molló, in Vallespir
Vallespir
Vallespir is a historical Catalan comarca of Northern Catalonia, part of the French Département of Pyrénées-Orientales. The capital of the comarca is Ceret, and it borders Conflent, Rosselló, Alt Empordà, Garrotxa and Ripollès...

, Northern Catalonia
Northern Catalonia
Northern Catalonia is a term that is sometimes used, particularly in Catalan writings, to refer to the territory ceded to France by Spain through the signing of the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659...

, a "bear festival" (festa de l'ós) is celebrated annually at the beginning of spring, in which the locals dress up as bears, cover themselves with soot or coal and oil, and "attack" the onlookers, attempting to get everyone dirty. The festival ends with the ball de l'os (bear dance).

See also

  • European brown bear
  • Cantabrian brown bear
    Cantabrian brown bear
    Cantabrian brown bear refers to a population of Eurasian brown bears living in the Cantabrian Mountains of Spain. Females weigh, on average, 85kg but can reach a weight of 150kg. Males average 115kg though can weigh as much as 200kg. The bear measures between 1.6 – 2m in length and between 0.90...

  • Environmental Centre ARCTUROS
    Environmental Centre ARCTUROS
    Environmental Centre ARCTUROS commonly known as Arcturos, is a Greek ecological organization which focuses its efforts on saving the brown bear and its habitats.-Activities:...

  • List of fatal bear attacks in North America
  • Sankebetsu brown bear incident
    Sankebetsu brown bear incident
    The , also referred to as the or the was the worst bear attack in Japanese history, killing seven settlers in Rokusensawa, Sankebetsu, Tomamae, Rumoi, Hokkaidō, Japan....

  • Kodiak bear
    Kodiak Bear
    The Kodiak bear , also known as the Kodiak brown bear or the Alaskan grizzly bear or American brown bear, occupies the islands of the Kodiak Archipelago in South-Western Alaska. Its name in the Alutiiq language is Taquka-aq. It is the largest subspecies of brown bear.- Taxonomy :Taxonomist C.H...

  • Grizzly bear
    Grizzly Bear
    The grizzly bear , also known as the silvertip bear, the grizzly, or the North American brown bear, is a subspecies of brown bear that generally lives in the uplands of western North America...


External links

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