Grizzly Bear, US Fish & Wildlife photoGrizzly Bear, US Fish & Wildlife photoGrizzly Bear & Cubs, NPS photo

Once abundant throughout the American West, grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) today live only in five distinct recovery areas in the lower 48 states and in sparsely inhabited areas of Canada. Omnivores, more than 90 percent of their diet consists of grass, roots, berries, pine nuts, acorns, mushrooms, insects, and larva. While occasionally preying on larger animals, carrion and small animals such as squirrels are other food sources. During the winter months, when food is nearly nonexistent, bears will hibernate, living off fat reserves.

Listed as threatened in the contiguous United States and endangered in part of Canada, grizzly bears will normally avoid humans when possible. Human development of land in the region has resulted in habitat fragmentation for the species, while declining crops of whitebark pine nuts may affect their food availability. As grizzly bears have a very low reproductive rate, these pressures are seen as increasingly detrimental to maintaining healthy populations in the Crown of the Continent.

Research into grizzly bears is currently aimed at obtaining accurate population numbers via DNA samples from hair gathered at bear rub sites.