Living & Safety in Bear Country

Bear Identification

The Distinctive Hump and Rump:
The grizzly’s hump between the shoulders is usually visible in profile. The rump of a grizzly is lower than its shoulder when the bear is on all fours, while a black bear’s rump is higher than the rest of its body. This is sometimes hard to see from a distance.

The “Dished” Face:
A grizzly typically has a somewhat concave profile from between its eyes to the end of its nose, whereas a black bear normally has a more convex, profile. Grizzlies tend to have smaller, more rounded ears while black bear’s ears tend to be larger, more erect and more pointed.

Unique Tracks:
Compared to a black bear’s track, grizzly tracks of the front feet are more square. If you take a straight edge and hold it across the track of a grizzly front foot, just in front of the pad and behind the toe on either side, it will not cross the toe on the other side of the foot. A black bear’s front track is more rounded and a straight edge will cross the toe on the other side of the foot. When observing a back foot- print, notice the grizzly bear print has a pointed heel and lacks the wedged instep of a black bear print. Grizzlies have long, gently curved, more obvious claws compared to black bears’ shorter, more curved claws.

Take the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Bear Identification Test