Explainer: Black bear or brown bear?

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You may assume it’s straightforward to inform whether or not you’re seeing a black bear (Ursus americanus) or a brown bear, which is usually referred to as a grizzly bear (Ursus arctos). After all, one is black, and one is brown, proper? Well, not fairly. Some grizzly bears could be very darkish. Some black bears could be brown, gray, cinnamon-colored or even white.

Here are some suggestions for what to search for to inform a black bear from a brown bear.

  1. Location: Black bears are discovered throughout North America. Brown bears desire cooler locations, similar to Yellowstone National Park or different northern elements of the United States and Canada. In truth, 95 % of the brown bears within the United States dwell in Alaska. So if you happen to see a bear in Florida, it’s a black bear. But if you happen to see one in Canada, it may very well be a black or a brown bear.
  2. Size: On all fours, a brown bear is about one to 1.5 meters (3 to five ft) excessive on the shoulder (and much taller when standing). A black bear is smaller, about 0.6 to 1 meter excessive (2 to three.5 ft) when strolling. But black bears could be greater, and brown bears could be smaller.
  3. Shoulders: Brown bears have a hump on their shoulders, and their rear finish is decrease than their shoulders. Black bears don’t have a hump, and their rumps are larger than their shoulders. Rear within the air? It’s a black bear.
  4. Face: Brown bears have a thick ruff of fur round their faces, whereas black bears have slimmer, sleeker necks. Brown bears even have shorter, rounded ears. Black bear ears are pointier.
  5. Claws: Brown bears have lengthy straighter claws, a bit like a canine’s. Black bears have shorter, curved claws, extra like a cat’s. Hopefully you by no means get shut sufficient to see these.
  6. Tracks: A brown bear’s footprint will mean you can draw a straight line between the pad of the foot and the toes. A black bear’s footprint gained’t — the road must cross a toe.
an illustration of a black bear

Is it a black bear? Or a brown bear (a grizzly)? Here's tips on how to inform the distinction.
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If you see a bear, don’t panic! Most bears don’t need to see you both. Instead, introduce yourself. Talk to the bear in a traditional voice, in order that it is aware of you’re a human. Wave your arms and do what you may to make your self look massive. Move away slowly by transferring sideways, so the bear doesn’t see you as a menace.

To reduce your probability of seeing a bear, it’s a good suggestion to journey in teams when in bear nation. Groups make extra noise, so bears will hear you coming and know to get out of the way in which. If you’re in a spot the place bears are quite common, you can too carry bear spray. But ensure you learn to use it.

And don’t feed the bears. They may look cute, however wild bears are finest left to wild eating. If they get used to seeing people as a supply of a snack, it’s the bears who will find yourself in bother.    

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