the great bear
Updated: Nov 27, 2018
Iconic, powerful, intelligent, nurturing, captivating .........
All of these can and do accurately describe the grizzly bear. Unfortunately it is often ‘fierce and dangerous’ which are the terms that dominate people’s psyche when describing this mammal. Grizzly bears inhabit the remote wilderness areas of North America, Asia and what is left in Europe. They are creatures of the alpine and forest regions and have the largest range of any of the eight bear species.
“As surely as the sun rises tomorrow morning, grizzly country is wilderness country, and he can't live without it ... the grizzly can show us something of what it means to live in harmony with nature." --- Andy Russell
Stronghold populations of this great bear still exist in Canada, Alaska and Russia, however unfortunately huge declines of this species have occurred in the continental United States, Europe and some Asian nations.
The greatest threat to grizzly bears comes from humans, in the forms of habitat destruction, poaching and trophy hunting. Few individuals have realised the importance of grizzly bears in maintaining healthy forest ecosystems throughout their range, spreading various species of plant and fruit seeds, and as an ecotourism icon bringing in millions of dollars where they are protected and nature enthusiasts and photographers can observe them in their true majesty.
Grizzly bears are the absolute epitome of omnivores and incorporate a dizzying array of food sources in their diet. From berries, honey, grasses and crabs, to insects, salmon, nuts, mice, deer and much, much more, grizzly bears go from a birth weight of just one pound to over 800 in adult males! It is the mother bear that takes care of the cubs for around 2-2.5 years, while male grizzlies are essentially solitary. Female bears do not trust any animal that could threaten her cubs, including the father, and they will defend their cubs with ferocity. Congregations of grizzlies will be seen, but only at ample food sources such as large salmon runs or massive sedge flats.
The best spots to observe these iconic bears in the wild:
--- Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia (Khutzeymateen, Bella Coola valley)
--- Coastal Alaska, Katmai and Lake Clark National Parks
--- Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks, Wyoming
--- Canadian Rockies
--- Kamchatka, Russia
Watching grizzly bears in the wild is awe-inspiring and one of nature’s true splendours. For a great opportunity to observe and photograph grizzly bears, check out our Majestic Alaska tour next July.