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Grizzly Bears of Bute


The Grizzly or Brown bear is the most widely distributed species of bear in the world. At one time the Ursus arctos ranged across Europe and Asia through parts of China and Japan to Siberia and across to Alaska and down through British Columbia and as far south as California.
With the advance of Western civilization, the grizzly populations have dwindled and disappeared completely from many areas with the exception of the West Coast mainland of British Columbia. The Bute Inlet region is the southern border of what is now referred to as the Great Bear Rainforest. The geography and wildlife are mostly intact so the great Brown bear has flourished in the valleys and along the coastline of this region.

The Grizzly Bear can grow to a height of 2.5 meters (7.5 Feet) and can weight as much as 400 kilograms (900 pounds). Their colour is mostly brown but they can range from almost blonde to almost black. The prominent features of the Grizzly are the large claws on the forefeet used for digging and the hump on the front shoulders.

The grizzly mothers start breeding at five to seven years old and have one to three cubs every three years or more during their 25-year life span.

Grizzly feeding on salmon

The Black bear is the smaller cousin to the grizzly and grows to a height of up to 1.9 meters (6 feet) and weighs in at between 90 to 250 kilograms (200 to 600 pounds). Their colour ranges from black to brown or cinnamon and sometimes (although rarely) a grayish-blue or ivory-white. Black bears appear higher at the hind end than the front and they have large round ears and a long nose.

Mother bears start with their first offspring at three to five years of age and have between one to four cubs every two or more years over their 20-year life span.

Both Grizzly and Black bears are opportunistic feeders searching for plants, berries and meat for food. At the Orford River location, Grizzlies are most often found feeding on salmon swimming upstream to spawn starting in mid-August through to October. The rich red meat of the Chinook, Coho, Chum or Pink salmon are an essential part of the bears diet. In order to survive the long cold Bute Inlet winters, the bears feast on salmon for much of the fall until they have stored away enough fat to get through hibernation.

Black bears are often seen along the shoreline at low tides turning over rocks to get at crabs and mussels. The larger Grizzly bear does not tolerate the smaller Black bears eating in their territory so it rare to see a black bear feeding on salmon when Grizzlies are in the area.

Two Bears Feast
Grizzly Bear

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