Frequently Asked Questions - School Children

Frequently AskedQuestions

School Children's Questions

What are the Reproduction and Breeding rates?

Grizzlies are different than black bears in their breeding rates. Black bears will raise a set of cubs every second year, where grizzlies keep their cubs with them until they are two year old and thus have cubs every three years. There is a high death rate with cubs so raising one in three is considered normal. Black bear might raise two out of three on average.

Where can Grizzly Bears can be found today and in the past? I don't have access to a map where I am writing this in Kamchatka, but in the lower forty eight states, their range only occupies a small portion of what it once did. Now they are only in the northern part of Montana in the Rockies and in an island habitat in and around Yellowstone Park. They were once in much of Idaho, Colorado, California, New Mexico and well down into Old Mexico.
What adaptations do Grizzly Bears have for getting food or defending themselves? They are big, strong, intelligent animals, but they are not really adept predators when it comes to chasing down running animals. The wolf is much better at this. The grizzly is a good fisher bear, a great digger for things like mice, gophers, marmots and roots. Probably its greatest adaptation is that it can graze all day like a cow on grasses and survive quite well on them. They are omnivore. They survive mostly because of there size, strength and being peaceful when give the chance. High powered guns have been there downfall.
Are Grizzly Bears endangered because of a natural cause or human interference? They suffer mostly from human interference, but not all human interference has to continue to be negative. We have proven that humans can learn to live near to them and share the same areas and once this is learned the number of bears you live near to is not very critical. If you can learn to live with one bear, you can live with hundreds of them almost as easily.
How many Grizzly Bears are left in the world today? About 1200 in the Lower Forty Eight, 25,000 in all of Canada, 30,000 in Alaska, 15,000 in of Western and Eastern Europe, not including any part of Russia, and probably 150,000 in Russia. This adds up to my very approximate estimate of 232,000 in the whole world. If it sounds like a lot to you, think of it in human terms. This is the population of the city where I live, Calgary Alberta - one rather small city among thousands of cities in the world.
How long has the Grizzly Bear population been declining?
This is a difficult because estimate rely on a uneven and sporadic population build up of people and their firearms. About 300 BC the crossbow was developed in China with enough power to easily kill bears. My guess is that this is also when bears began to be killed rather freely and often. Soon there were areas in China that there were a lot fewer bears. It was not until the late 1800's that guns with bullets could penetrate with more power that crossbows, but the earlier guns could still kill bears. It didn't take firearms to kill big grizzlies. During the 1700's in California there was and estimated 10,000 grizzlies. Spanish conquistadors made a sport of killing them from horseback with only their lariats. Mostly because of guns, by 1908 there were no grizzly bears left in California. I would estimate that bears didn't really start to decline seriously until the late 1800's, more because that was when humans really started to thrive.
What impact would the Grizzly Bear have if it were to become extinct? For me the Grizzly Bear is a very interesting and wonderful animal and it would be a huge loss to have none left in the world.
How long have you studied bears? I have been studying grizzlies for 42 years.
What do you like most about bears? That they are peaceful, and very loving animals that respond in kind to kind treatment form people.
I would like to know how long Grizzly bears live? In captivity they have lived almost 40 years. In the wild there is a record of a female having cubs at 28 year. If you don't count cub mortality and hunting, their average life perhaps would be about 20 years.
How big does the Grizzly bear get? This depends on the area and the food available and time of year. Where there are lots of salmon like in coastal Alaska and Kamchatka, males can reach about 1500 lbs. at denning time, but on average they are about 1000 lbs. Females are about half that. In the interior, the females and males are about 500 and 250 respectfully, maybe even a bit lighter than that.



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