Interesting Facts About Grizzly Bears
The Grizzly Bear, also known as the North American brown bear, is a subspecies of the brown bear that inhabits North America. They play essential roles in their ecosystems, and conservation efforts for their habitats will also benefit other species in the habitats.
Here are a few interesting facts on grizzly bears:
They Are Called Grizzly Due to Their Fur and “Nature”
The hair on the bear is grizzled, which means it is sliver-tipped. The bears’ scientific name, Ursus horribilis, means terrifying bear. However, grizzlies are generally peaceful animals but will not back down when protecting their young or food. Nonetheless, the bears were originally called grizzlies from grisly, which means scary or gruesome. It can be attributed to their fearsome reputation.
The Hump on Their Backs Is a Massive Muscle
The prominent hump on their back can quickly identify grizzly bears. However, the hump is a large muscle that powers the bear’s front legs. It powers and enables the bear to dig and even tear through rotten logs, searching for grub and insects to eat. The hump allows them to dig out their dens for the winter, often in rocky terrains. The hump also easily distinguishes the grizzlies from black bears, which do not have the hump.
Grizzly Bears Do Not Hibernate
One of the least known facts about bears is that they do not hibernate in the winter. Their metabolism slows down, and they go into a state known as torpor. The heart rate slows down from 40 bpm to 8 bpm. Unlike a hibernating animal, a bear in torpor will wake up if exposed to loud noises or even when touched.
Bears in torpor do not go to the bathroom, absorb their urine, and even recycle it into protein. The process helps them to conserve muscle mass and avoid loss of mass. Bears are often spotted on the hiking trails or wandering in Yellowstone National Park. It is vital to keep your distance and avoid direct eye contact.
Grizzly Bears Can Eat Up to 90lbs a Day
During warmer months, the bears eat a large amount of food to ensure they can live off the body fat during the cold winter when food availability is much scarcer. They can eat up to 90lbs daily and gain 2.2lbs of body weight. Grizzlies are omnivores.
Their diet can vary depending on the food available in the season. They eat:
- Fruits and roots
- Fish such as salmon
Grizzly Bears Are Classified as Threatened Species
Although the population of bears once peaked at more than 50,000, the population of bears has significantly shrunk in recent years. It was estimated that in 1960, only about 800 were in the wild. The drastic reduction in their number can be attributed to the expansion of towns in their habitats and aggressive hunting in the early 20th century.
The Bears Are a Conversation Success Story
After the Grizzly bears gained protection under the US Endangered Species Act, grizzly bears have increased, with the population bouncing back. There are about 1700 bears in the wild. However, conservation efforts are still ongoing to ensure the continuity of the species.
Grizzly bears tend to avoid human contact. It is essential to practice safe travel tactics when in the backcountry. Travel in groups and make noise. Be extremely cautious.