Alaska Brown Bears

I’ve written about Alaska Brown Bears (Ursus arctos) a few times in the past, but I can’t browse through my catalog of photos without stopping. All it takes is a quick glance to relive the encounters with them; encounter mixed with both a great sense of peace and a large bit of anxiety as well. I’ve fished with clients in Alaska sharing the river mouths with them without any problems. Seems like they hardly even give us a glance, but in a corner of my heart I know they could ruin my day in a split second and that does keep me on my toes. All you have to do is look at this guy’s paw to see the truth in that statement.

Brown Bears (Ursus arctos)

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Alaska Brown Bears

Walking on all fours, brown bears have a height of about 3.5 feet (just over 1 meter). They can reach heights of 6-7 feet (1.5-2.5 meters) when standing on their hind legs. There are regional size differences among bears; brown bears are generally larger in the north—likely due to the colder climates. The largest of the brown bears is the Kodiak bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi), is found only in the Kodiak archipelago islands along the southeastern coast of Alaska. Kodiaks can stand more than 10 feet (3 meters) tall on their hind legs and 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall when on all fours.

There were all kinds of things I was afraid of at first, ranging from grizzly bears to ‘mean’ horses and gun-fighters; but by acting as if I was not afraid I gradually ceased to be afraid. -Theodore Roosevelt

Though brown bears are often perceived as carnivores, they are actually omnivorous. Depending on season, habitat, and region, they can eat grasses, berries, sedges, fungi, mosses, roots, nuts, fruits, honey, insects, birds, and fish (trout, bass, and particularly adult salmon returning to rivers to spawn). In some regions, 80-90% of their diet consists of vegetation. Bears will also hunt mammals such as rodents, mountain sheep, caribou, elk, moose, and will eat carrion, as well.

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