The Difference Between Two Bears

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The grizzly bear and the black bear are closely related to each other and at first glance, may be difficult to tell apart. But for those who enjoy hiking or hunting, or are just looking to protect their livestock and crops, it is very important to be able to tell the difference between the two.

The grizzly bear is usually between five and eight feet in size and weighs around 400 to 600 pounds. Its most identifiable characteristic is a small hump on its back just in front of the shoulder blades. The grizzly bear can have fur color in various shades of blond, brown, or black, that is sometimes accompanied by a faint silver sheen. This gives the bear’s fur a “grizzled” look, hence the name grizzly. Grizzly bears are mostly solitary animals, and of the two types of bear, they are known to be more aggressive. Female grizzlies are sometimes seen their cubs, and can have anywhere from one to four young at a time. Female grizzlies are most likely to attack if they feel their cubs are threatened.

The black bear is slightly smaller than the grizzly at around 140 to 250 bounds and around 6 feet long. Despite being called the black bear, this species can also have fur in many different shades of blond, brown, or black.

Aside from their size, the two species can be identified by their ear shape, claw size, and facial profile. A grizzly has short, round ears, whereas a black bear has taller, more triangular ears. Of the two bears, the grizzly has longer claws that are used for digging. From a side on view, the grizzly bear’s face is longer with a broader nose, and a black bear’s face appears much shorter with a small, pointed nose.

Probably the most important distinction between these two bears is their status on the endangered species list. The black bear is incredibly common throughout North America, and is of least concern for danger of extinction. The grizzly bear is considered threatened under the Endangered Species Act. It is protected both in National Parks and by law. This protection only goes so far, as many bears are still killed in accidents with motor vehicles and trains. The penalty for a person purposefully killing a grizzly bear can range anywhere from a hefty fine to several years in jail.

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