Brown bears and grizzly are classified as the same species, with the grizzly considered a subspecies of the brown bear. Brown bears are found along Alaska’s southern coastline, and are larger and live in higher densities than their inland grizzly counterparts. The main advantage to coastal living, is the abundance of salmon as a food source. The thicker vegetation and warmer climate of the southern coast also helps to give the brown bear the size edge.
The Kodiak brown bear is considered a unique subspecies from the brown & grizzly bear. The Kodiaks have been isolated from mainland bears since the last ice age, or 12,000 years ago.
Brown bear cubs are born in January & February, usually as twins, but a litter of 1-4 cubs will occur. Cubs usually emerge from the den in June. Cubs have a survival rate of less than 50%, even with ferociously protective mothers. Cubs will stay with their mother for 2-3 years. The oldest known brown bear female was 39 years old, with the oldest known male at 38. They can reach a weight of up to 1500 pounds.
Bears have an excellent sense of smell, and their eyesight & hearing is similar to humans. They are excellent swimmers, and can run in bursts at 40 mph.
Currently, the Alaska brown bear population is around 32,000. Which is 98% of the population in the United States, and 70% of the total North American population.
Kodiak Island has approximately 3500 bears, which makes for .7 bears per square mile.
By contrast, Alaska has approximately 100,000 black bears living in the state.
Since we’re in the middle of Katmai Week here between The Circles, I wanted to share this photo, although probably not for the reasons many would think.
The pic above was taken of two fishermen in Katmai National Park. I’ve found myself in a similar situation while fishing Alaska’s rivers. Once was with my Dad, which was more nerve-wracking than when I was solo! Forget the bear, I was worried about how my Dad would react.
What I love about this picture, from all my time in Alaska, is that the bear actually has little to no interest in the fishermen. The bear simply has salmon on its mind. We don’t have two fishermen in the picture, but three.
If given half the chance, man can live with wildlife. The two species above, can coexist. Katmai NP&P is a prime example of that. I would hope that is the lesson the photograph has to give. After all, Alaska would be a much poorer place without her bears.
The photo was taken in July by Robert Hawthorne, a photographer out of Bozeman, Montana. His link is below:
Voting for the Fattest Bear of Katmai continues over at the Katmai National Park & Preserve Facebook page.
In round one, fan fave Otis went down to Lefty, in an upset. Divot, Grazer and #909 also moved into the second round. There is some large competition waiting for them, as Wide-Body #747, Holly, Chunk and #503 had first round byes, and could continue hoarding calories, as they watched their fellow bears compete.
Katmai National Park has been holding its annual Fat Bear Week over the past few days.
Complete with a March Madness type bracket, the park has been posting before and after pictures of various bears, in a head to head, or possibly, belly to belly, face off.
Highlighting how much weight brown bears need to put on over the summer to get through hibernation, Katmai has found a unique way to raise public awareness.
Two bears now go belly to belly for the 2018 title of Fattest Bear of Katmai.
First we have Bear #409, also known as Beadnose. Beadnose comes into the championship round having beat out three time champion Otis.
Challenging Beadnose is Bear #747. This Bear carries a lot of weight, but no nickname. Although, I expect that will change next spring. I have to admit, 747 is appropriate, just look at that wide body.
I believe voting closes today at 3 pm Alaska time on the Katmai Facebook page.