Comparing the Black Bear and the Grizzly Bear

Could you tell the difference between a grizzly bear and a black bear at a glance? Most people could not, and that difference can be important to keeping you safe. Black bears and grizzly bears are both dangerous land animals, and both are capable of harming us. Still, knowing the difference between the two bears can be a life saving skill. Here are the primary differences, and how to recognize them.

The black bear is not nearly as large as the grizzly bear when fully grown. A grizzly is huge at nearly 8 feet when full grown and can weigh in excess of 1000 pounds. The black bear is normally around five feet high and around 600 pounds. This is not a very good measure of identification, however, as you may have a young grizzly that is mistaken for a grown black bear, etc. Use this is a general rule of thumb.

Many people think that a black bear is simply black. This is far from the truth. A black bear can be blonde in color, brown, or even a rust-like color. Unfortunately, the grizzly bear is also capable of any of these same combinations in color. This means that color is a very bad way to tell the difference.

Black bears love to spend time investigating the world around them. With the expansion of humans into their habitats, it is not uncommon for black bears to show up in the backyards of some people that live close to their home forests. As a rule, black bears prefer to stay in the wilderness, but they will certainly go into town if that is where the food is.

A grizzly prefers the fields of an open range to the forests. He is an avid fisherman that loves hanging out around streams and rivers. The grizzly too will sometimes find himself in places close to humans, and they are not usually very happy about it.

It is fast becoming obvious that grizzly bears and black bears are tough to tell apart. The key is really in looking at the shape of the bear. A grizzly has a tell tale hump on the back of the shoulders. They also have a “grizzled” look to their fur under their necks.

The black bear will be missing the hump and neck grizzle of the grizzly bear. It also will have a much higher rear end when down on all fours. The black bear almost seems to be leaning forward all the time on all fours. They also have larger ears than the grizzly bear.

The black bear and grizzly bear largely resembles one another, and unfortunately most of the identifying characteristics means that you are too close to the animal. At a distance, you can generally make out the tell-tale hump of the grizzlies shoulders or even the high rear end of the black bear. Whatever the case, you should always keep plenty of distance between yourself and these bears. They all are capable of doing great harm to us, and we should respect their space.


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