Bear Identification

Know the Differences: When it comes to identifying bears, size and color are not reliable indicators of the species. Don’t rely on size and color to make an identification. Size is relative, and both species range in color from black to blond.

Hump and Rump

Grizzly Bear: Shoulder Hump, Rounded Short Ears, Dished Face

Black Bear: No Shoulder Hump, Pointed Tall Ears, Straight Face Profile

Grizzly Bear vs Black Bear
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Grizzly tracks of the front feet are typically squarer compared to black bears. On the other hand, 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 footprint, note that a grizzly bear print has a pointed heel and lacks the wedged instep of a black bear print.

Grizzly Bear: Toes Closer Together, Longer Claws

Black Bear: Toes More Separate, Shorter Claws

Grizzly Bear vs Black Bear

Front Paw and Back Paw

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Grizzlies also have longer (2-4 inch), gently curved claws, whereas black bears have shorter, sharply curved claws that are usually less than 2 inches long.

Grizzly Bear: 2″-4″ Long, Gently Curved

Black Bear: 1.5″ Long, Sharply Curved

Grizzly Bear vs Black Bear
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Know Your Bears

Remember, accurate bear identification is crucial for your safety and the safety of the bears. If you encounter a bear in the wild, always observe from a safe distance and avoid approaching or disturbing them. If in doubt, consult a wildlife expert or park ranger for assistance.

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Additional Resources

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