Grizzly Bears: There are few experiences as breathtaking as seeing an animal in its natural habitat – and few animals you’ll be luckier to see in the wild than a wild bear. While we make no guarantees, on tours like Alaska Kenai and Denali Adventure, Adventures travelers occasionally encounter these incredible creatures. If you’re considering the trip—and even if you haven’t—here are five things you might not know about Ursus Arctos:
They’re not as big as bears come
Make no mistake: Grizzlies are imposing (and dangerous). But as far as bears are concerned, their size – the male grizzly weighs a maximum of 270 kg; Females weigh between 130-200 kg – placing them in the middle of the pack. The largest bear on Earth is actually the polar bear, whose males can grow up to 630 kilograms (brown bears, which can kill 400 kilograms, are in second place).
They’ll eat almost anything — but nothing eats them
Most bear species are omnivores, which means they – like humans – are biologically engineered to eat and digest both plants and animals: grizzlies range from fruits, berries, and roots to salmon, rodents, and – believe it or not – Will crush on anything. But they have no natural predators: the only threats to alligators in the wild are habitat loss, climate change, and humans.
Don’t be fooled by their heft: Grizzlies move fast
Think a 270 kg, the two-meter tall animal can’t chase? Think again: In 2014, a grizzly was caught on camera overtaking a car in Wyoming. In fact, bears can hit speeds of up to 35 kilometers per hour—which, for context, is eight kilometers per hour faster than Usain Bolt.
Their bite is (measurably) stronger than their bark
Grizzlies are solitary creatures, so they do not rely on a vast array of vocal cues for communication: primarily, they mark their territory, and use non-vocal sounds – such as tooth-clacking, sniff, sniff, or huff – to communicate with one another. But when it comes to biting down, his skill is formidable: A grizzly’s bite has been measured at 8 megapascals—strong enough to crush a bowling ball.
They’re good for the planet
When grizzlies eat, they also give back—in several ways: the soil they lift up while digging for roots is rich in nitrogen; The seeds of the berries they digest and often develop into new plants; And the salmon carcasses that they carry from the water to the land enrich the soil.