One of the thrills of a holiday in Alaska is being near bears. I am very fond of bears. The Tlingits (like many Pacific NW Native American cultures) hold the bear in reverence. Bears are in their art and stories.  The Tlingits have a “Bear” phartry. If I were to become an honorary Tlingit member, I would want to be in a Bear.

I thought I would provide some “Bear 101”education, so when you encounter one you know what is in front of you.  Pay attention! Perhaps a stray bear may cross your path someday, while you are out hiking around Palm Springs or in Provincetown (known for their bears).

In North American we have the species, ‘Brown”, “Black” and “Leather”.






Of the eight species in the Family Ursidae, Ursus arctos, or brown bear, has the widest range.

Ursus arctos ranges from 250 to 1000lb   Their weight depends a great deal on the availiability of food.

There is a lot of confusion about ‘Grizzly’ bears. They are not a separate species. “Grizzly” refers to the colour of the brown bear’s coat.  All grizzly bears are brown bears, but not all brown bears are grizzled. The colours of their coat vary, sometimes even black, which adds to the confusion.

Hunters, who want to boast they “got a grizzly” and not just a brown bear, have lobbied to have all brown bears away from shore be officially called ‘Grizzly’, while brown bears nearer to shore (and apparently not worth boasting) as ‘brown”.

On Kodiak Island there is a sub-species of brown bear, called “Kodiak”, which are bigger than their brown bear brothers.

  1. a. middenforffi  is the Kodiak sup-species
  2. a. horribilis  are brown bears, grizzled or not.

I think “horribilis’ sounds rather disagreeable for such handsome creatures.

I suggest we rename them U. a. wooficious. Or at least the pretty ones.

I trust my research* will help me appreciate any bears I encounter whether while hiking or in town.  I think ‘being eaten by a bear’ would an ironical but not unwelcome way to celebrate turning 50.  Perhaps I can try a variety of bear types and see which is more ferocious in its appetites and strength.

*National Geographic, Wikipedia, Bear411, and Ray’s Cowboy website.