Grizzly Bears

The "Great Brown Bears" of BC's Great Bear Rainforest and Fjordland Conservancy

The Great Bear Rainforest is critically important for North America's remaining grizzly bears - it is the most southerly coastal grizzly bear population remaining on the Pacific coast.

Before Europeans arrived in North America, a vast network of grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) trails existed between California and Alaska. Today the southern extent of the grizzly's range has been destroyed, largely by habitat loss from logging and urbanization. Only a few small isolated patches of habitat are presently occupied by grizzlies below the 49th parallel. ??

The " great bears" of coastal BC grow to very large sizes (some over a thousand pounds). Most of this can be attributed to their salmon rich fall diet. The hump on the grizzly's back that distinguishes it from a black bear is a thick wad of muscle which enables the bear's powerful digging ability. Grizzly claws, which can be four to six inches long, are slightly curved and adapted more for digging, as opposed to the hooked claws of black bears which are adapted for tree climbing. ??Grizzly bears have the lowest reproductive rate of any North American mammal. One reason for this is the late sexual maturation of female grizzlies, as they do not start breeding until 5 to 8 years of age. If optimum conditions exist, breeding females will produce only one to three cubs per litter at 2 to 3 year intervals. One third of all litters die before the end of their first year, and at least 70 per cent of all young die before reproducing.

The co-managed Fjordland Conservancy in Mussel Inlet is home to an abudance of Grizzly bears. They thrive here because they favour the lower slopes, river valleys, floodplains, and estuaries and they gorge on berries, grasses, devil’s club, insects, clams and salmon. The rich habitat of the Fjordlands area historically has produced large numbers of record sized bears (up to 500 kilos or 1100 pounds.

Much of the Kitasoo/Xaixais territory including the Fjordlands has been protected, allowing guests to experience these bears in their natural environment.