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The Grizzly Bear – A Canadian Icon
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The Grizzly Bear – A Canadian Icon

[caption id="attachment_23299" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Valerie Assinewe Valerie Assinewe,
Guest Blogger[/caption] This blog was written by guest blogger Valerie Assinewe. This month's calendar photo is of a Grizzly Bear in Kananaskis country. In myth, in Indigenous tradition and in popular culture, few mammals loom as large as this month’s featured species, the magnificent Grizzly Bear. Here is some information about this iconic animal. Where do they live? The Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis), a subspecies of the brown bear, inhabits western Canada.Image of a Grizzly Bear What do they look like? One of the largest of living carnivores, Brown Bears are 1-3 m in length from head to rump. They are 90-150 cm tall at the shoulder and they range in weight from 80-600 kg. On average, adult males are 8-10% larger than females. An adult Grizzly Bear standing upright on its hind legs is roughly the height of a basketball net and can have the weight of a Toyota Corolla. Grizzly Bears are extremely strong and have good endurance; they can kill a cow with one blow, outrun a horse, outswim an Olympian and drag a dead elk uphill. What do they eat? During warmer months, Grizzly Bears eat a massive amount of food so they can live off body fat during the winter. They may consume 40 kg of food each day, gaining over 1 kg/day of body weight. As omnivores, grizzlies will eat anything nutritious they can find, gorging on nuts, fruit, leaves, roots, fungi, insects and a variety of animals including salmon and other fish, rodents, sheep and elk. Their diet varies depending on what foods are available for the season, and consequently they will eat domestic animals, carrion and garbage. In the fall, as temperatures cool and food becomes scarcer, grizzlies dig dens in the sides of hills. The bears settle in their dens to hibernate for the winter. This deep sleep allows the grizzlies to conserve energy. Their heart rate slows from 40 beats/min to 8; and in case you’re wondering, they do not defecate or urinate during hibernation. How do they reproduce? Female bears have their first young when they are 5-7 years old, and typically have litters of 1-3 cubs. The young are born during January or February inside the overwintering den. At birth, the cubs are less than 22 cm long and weigh about 400 g. They gain weight rapidly and weigh about 8 kg when they emerge in the spring. The cubs learn from their mothers and stay with them for 2-4 years. As a result, female bears are only able to reproduce every three or four years. Grizzly Bears live an average of 20 years, although individuals as old as 34 have been recorded. Image of a Grizzly female and cubBlack vs Brown Bear It is not as simple as a black versus brown: hair colour is, in fact, the least reliable identifier. “Black” Bears can be black, blue-black, dark brown, brown, cinnamon or even white. Grizzly Bears, likewise, may range in colour, from black to blond. Similarly, size is also not a reliable identifier even though Grizzly Bears are, on average, significantly larger than Black Bears. Size varies with the age of the animal and the season. How can you tell? The following are the best indicators:

  • Grizzly Bears have a pronounced shoulder hump, which the Black Bear lacks.
  • Grizzly Bears have a concave or “dished” facial profile, whereas Black Bears have a straight face profile.
  • Grizzly Bears have smaller, more rounded ears. Black Bears have larger, longer, more erect, and pointed ears.
  • The Grizzly Bear have much larger claws than the Black Bear: 5-10 cm compared to 3.8 cm front claws, respectively.
As people and the Grizzly Bear interact more, remember that the bear will only attack if cornered, wounded or protecting their cubs. Wildlife officials advise that the best way to avoid a bear encounter is to make noise while hiking and carry bear spray. Habitat loss due to logging, development and mining has affected the Grizzly Bear in northwestern United States, and as a result, the Grizzly Bear is listed as threatened in the U.S.A. In Canada, human activity is also affecting the grizzly population. You can do your part by contributing to efforts to protect the habitat of Grizzly Bears, and through your ongoing and valued support to the many conservation initiatives of Nature Canada.
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Christmas Has Come Early for BC Grizzlies
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Christmas Has Come Early for BC Grizzlies

[caption id="attachment_33197" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Lenore Nadeau Lenore Nadeau, Grants and Sponsorships Officer[/caption] Nature Canada applauds the BC government’s decision to ban the hunting of grizzlies in the province, currently listed under COSEWIC as a species of special concern (western population). The decision was long overdue as the vast majority of British Columbians no longer believe it is socially acceptable to hunt these magnificent, iconic bears. The consultation process with First Nations, stakeholder groups, and the public found that 78% of respondents wanted the hunt stopped entirely – and the government has finally listened. First Nations will still be allowed to hunt grizzlies for food, social or ceremonial reasons, or for treaty rights. There is still much work to be done to address other threats to grizzlies, such as habitat loss. Nature Canada will continue to work with its local partners to ensure that provincial and federal governments protect important grizzly habitat in B.C. and through other parts of their range in Canada. Stay tuned for more on our exciting Protected Places campaign in the New Year!

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5 facts about Grizzly Bears to bear in mind
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5 facts about Grizzly Bears to bear in mind

150x150_asimardThis blog was written by writing intern Amanda Simard. This month’s calendar photo features a mother Grizzly Bear and her cub in the Khutze Inlet, BC. How much do you know about the Grizzly Bear? Here are 5 facts about the mammal you may not have known!

Grizzly Bear Description

Common name: Grizzly Bearimage of a Grizzly Bear Scientific name: Ursus arctos horribilis Habitat: Grizzlies are adaptable and their habitat ranges from dense forests to subalpine meadows, open plains and arctic tundra. Lifespan: 20 to 30 years in the wild Size: height between 1.5 and 2.5 m; weight between 100 and 270 kg Description: Grizzlies are typically dark brown, though their fur can range from light cream to black and is often white tipped. They have concave faces, a hump on their back, and long claws.

Fact 1: The Grizzly Bear’s scientific name translates to “horrible northern bear” or “terrifying northern bear.”

“Grizzly” also resembles the word “grisly,” meaning horrifying. However, the name more likely comes from the word “grizzled” which refers to hair streaked with gray, much like the Grizzly’s white-tipped fur.

Fact 2: Grizzly Bears can hibernate up to 7 months; talk about a long nap!

Before you ask; bears don’t eat, defecate, or urinate during this time.

[one_third]image of a Grizzly Bear and her cubs[/one_third] [two_third_last]Fact 3: Grizzly Bears are slow reproducing land mammals.

Female Grizzlies first reproduce when they reach 5 to 8 years of age. The mating season is between May and July, though the female’s body delays implantation until November or December. At that time, implantation only happens if she has enough body fat to carry her pregnancy through hibernation. Including this delay, the gestation period lasts 6 to 9 months. Litters can have up to 4 cubs, though they are usually of 2 or 3. Mothers stay with their cubs for about 3 years, avoiding male Grizzlies during this time. As a result, females only reproduce every 3 to 5 years. [/two_third_last]

Fact 4: The best approach to bear safety? Avoid bears.

This may seem intuitive but the safest way to interact with a bear, for both you and the bear, is to avoid doing so. Here are some tips for camping in bear territory:
  • Make noise. Clap, sing or talk loudly—bear bells are not enough. Let bears know you are there, they would rather avoid you, too!
  • Keep campsites free of attractants
  • Stick to official trails
  • Watch for bear signs—tracks, droppings, torn-up logs or disturbed rocks—and leave the area if fresh signs are found
  • Travel in large groups
  • Keep dogs on a leash—or at home
  • Leave any area in which you find a large dead animal—and alert the site staff
Before going into bear territory, it is always best to read up on bear safety.

Fact 5: Destruction of habitats is the main threat to Grizzly Bear survival, followed by highway and railroad mortalities.

Individuals can help protect bears by simply giving them their space. Bear habitats are considered secure when bears can go about their business with low risk of human-related disturbances. Campers and wilderness explorers should avoid disturbing the environment, and should respect official trails and signage. You can also help by contributing to Grizzly Bear habitat protection initiatives, and through your ongoing and valued support to the many conservation initiatives of Nature Canada. To learn more, check out our endangered species profile about Grizzly Bears. Acknowledgements: Parks Canada and Defenders of Wildlife
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The Bear-Truth: Yogi Bear
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The Bear-Truth: Yogi Bear

[caption id="attachment_28767" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Evan Dudley Evan Dudley, Guest Blogger[/caption] This blog was written by guest blogger Evan Dudley. Whether you are young or old, the chances are high that you are familiar with the popular cartoon of Yogi Bear. His wild adventures and shenanigans throughout Jellystone Park have delighted us for many years but the mystery remains: is this lovable bear a Black Bear or a Grizzly Bear? Nature Canada seeks to shed some light on this unidentified, furry comedian.

Defining Features

Location

First let’s look at the place he calls home, Jellystone Park. Now although Jellystone is a fictional park created by the animators, it is widely believed that it is based off of Yellowstone National Park (located mainly in Wyoming.) Due to the fact that the park is home to the Grizzly and Black Bear, we won’t be able to use location as a determinant. [caption id="attachment_28771" align="alignright" width="300"]Image of yogi the bear Is Yogi a Black or Grizzly Bear?[/caption]

Population

When we look at the population of each bear in Yellowstone, with the Grizzly Bear of a population ranging from 280-610, and the Black Bear ranging from 500-650, it does appear that the odds slightly tilt towards the Black Bear.

Appearance

Let’s look then at Yogi’s appearance. In the animated series Yogi Bear is presented as having a light brown coat. Now although the grizzly presents a similar feature, it is not uncommon to see a Black Bear with a similar tone of brown (despite what the name suggests.)

Diet

Consider Yogi’s diet.  In the animated series, Yogi is known for his love of “pic-a-nic” baskets, which is a constant theme of the series. However, both the Black Bear and Grizzly Bear are known to scavenge for food, with their diets being fairly similar. Another stalemate it appears.

Behavior

Both the Grizzly Bear and Black Bear are also known to walk on their hind legs, which appear to be Yogi’s preferred way of travel, however it is known that the Grizzly Bears do so more regularly.

Size

Another determining feature is Yogi Bear’s size. The Black Bear and the Grizzly Bear differ greatly when looking at adult males. An adult male Grizzly Bear averages around 8 ft tall standing up, and weighs around 270kg. An adult Black Bear averages 5-6 ft tall and weighs in around 150 kg, a great deal smaller. When comparing Yogi to the Yellowstone Park Ranger (Ranger Smith), who appears to be an adult male of average height (6 ft), Yogi bear falls further into the Black Bear category. Image of a Black BearImage of a Grizzly female and cub

Intelligence

The last and possibly the most important feature is based on Yogi’s iconic catchphrase, “Smarter than the average bear.” It is known that the Grizzly Bear is smarter than the average Black Bear, mainly due to its larger brain size. With this in mind we can make the argument that Yogi bear could very well be a Grizzly Bear despite his size difference.

Conclusion

A toss up. A strong case could be put forth for both species of bears and maybe that is the way the animators imagined him. Perhaps Yogi Bear was never meant to fit into one particular category or species, this could be the reason animators never confirmed which species he is based on. If you have an opinion one-way or the other we would love to hear from you! Comment below or complete our quick poll below to vote on what bear Yogi could be! Don’t forget that August is Grizzly Bear month here at Nature Canada, please help us protect these beautiful creatures and their habitat.
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And the winning nature photo is…
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And the winning nature photo is…

[caption id="attachment_16434" align="alignleft" width="150"]Jodi Joy Jodi Joy
Director of Development and Communications[/caption]

Our thanks to all our members who participated in this years’ Nature Photo contest – With over 6000 breathtaking entries, it was a sheer delight to look at all the wonderful photos and read about your cherished memories in nature this past summer.  We are thankful to our panel of judges (Kenny B, Meg Beckel, Laura Bombier, Sandy Sharkey, Les Stroud, Michael Tayler and Michelle Valberg) who provided their advice but most especially, to members like you, who voted online for your favourite photo. This year’s Member “Photo of the Year” portrays a Grizzly after a spring rain, photographed by Howard Trofanenko which will be featured on the front cover of our 2016 Nature Calendar, which is hot off the press and being mailed out next week.

The Grizzly by Howard Trofanenko!

Image of a Grizzly Bear

And a Big Round of Applause please... We’d also like to thank all the members who bid on the beautiful nature- inspired artwork during our recent “Art for Nature” online and silent auction.  With this support, we raised over $3,500 towards our efforts to defend wildlife and wilderness in Canada.  Special thanks to the various artists who donated their creative artwork including:
Robert Bateman Lynn Budny Karin Taylor
Allan Hancock Olga Cuttell Elisabeth Sommerville
Perry Haddock Lori Bagneres David Johnson
Christopher Potter Terri Rodstrom Dennis Cound
  [caption id="attachment_22869" align="aligncenter" width="420"]Image of Nature Canada Art for Nature Auction Art for Nature silent auction at Nature Canada AGM in Sidney, BC[/caption] Many of the winning bidders raved about the quality and originality of these nature-inspired pieces.  We encourage you to check out the various artists who care so deeply about nature to donate their personal pieces to help us raise funds to protect nature.   It is always inspiring to meet dedicated and committed individuals offering to help spread our message about the importance on nature in our lives and the need to protect it now and for years to come. A Big Thanks to everyone!  And we hope for your continued involvement and support to make next year’s Nature Photo contest and “Art for Nature” Auction even more successful. Email Signup

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