Dean M. Chriss
Grizzlies, Mom and Youngster, Alaska

Grizzlies, Mom and Youngster, Alaska

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During a brief pause in the pouring rain this mother grizzly bear and her cub take a break from gorging on salmon that have come here to spawn. The salmon weigh 30 to 40 pounds each and there are thousands of them. Food is plentiful in this part of Alaska and male bears usually weigh 600 to 800 pounds while females weigh about 350 to 450 pounds. There are exceptions, and the record weight for an older male is about 1400 pounds. When they are standing on all four legs the adult bears stand between 3 and 4 feet in height, and about 8 feet when standing on their two hind legs. Mother grizzlies nurse their cubs for up to three years.

Grizzly bears are most easily identified by the large hump of muscle above their front shoulders. Grizzlies are known to dig more than any other bear species, and those muscles give them the strength to do it. Their claws, which can be 4 inches in length, also help with digging. Grizzly bears are omnivores and their diet varies greatly with location. In areas where fish and meat are less plentiful, over 75% of their diet can consist of berries, leaves and nuts.