The Grizzly is one of two subspecies of Brown Bear occurring in North America, the other being the much larger Kodiak. The Grizzly may weigh from 350 lb. for a small female, to as much as 700 lb. for a large male. This bear derives it’s name from it’s coloration: the silver-tipped hair gives the animal a "grizzled" appearance.
Intelligent and curious, grizzlies will investigate any new object found in their environment.
They are known to be fast learners. If a bear finds part of a chocolate bar on a path, he may make repeated visits in case another chocolate bar turns up. 75% of the Grizzly’s omnivorous diet is derived from plants. They may become selective when food is abundant. During a salmon run they may even abandon male fish to concentrate on catching females in order to dine on the more nutritious salmon eggs.
Grizzlies, indeed, all Northern Bears, are strongly motivated during the summer months to gain weight in preparation for the months of hibernation. (Not a true hibernation, since they are easily awakened.) The instinct to hibernate is an adaptation to life in places where winter conditions, such as reduced food supplies and decreased mobility, may threaten survival. Newborns may weigh less than l lb., and can increase their weight as much as 1000 times during their 30-year lifespan. Grizzlies are devoted mothers and cubs remain with them for two to three years, during which time they learn their survival skills.
Though generally shy and peaceful, with an inclination to stay away from humans, Grizzlies also, however, especially when protecting cubs, prove to be among the most ferocious of bears when encountered. Rare incidents of mauling have usually been precipitated by the victim’s lack of knowledge about bears.
The Grizzly population has dwindled dramatically since the first European settlers, eager to take control of the new land by making it safe for themselves and their livestock, systematically decimated the huge predators. They also turned a nice profit by selling the pelts, which were extremely popular.
By 1900, the Grizzly had been eliminated from the Great Plains and the surrounding hill country. Though the Grizzly is the California State Animal and appears on our state flag, the last of these magnificent creatures in California was killed in 1922. A few scattered populations totalling only 800-900 bears still survive in the lower 48. The Grizzly is currently classified as Endangered