Grizzly bears have a hump on their shoulders and claws about two to four inches long. Grizzlies are often dark brown, but can vary from very light cream to black. The long guard hairs on their backs and shoulders often have white tips and give the bears a "grizzled" appearance. This is how they got the name "grizzly."
Grizzly bears have a better sense of smell than a hound dog and can detect food from miles away. Grizzlies eat seeds, berries, roots, grasses, fungi, deer, elk, fish, dead animals, and insects such as bees, ladybugs, and ants. In the late summer and early fall, grizzlies put on weight for winter denning. During this time period they can gain more than three pounds a day!
They are normally solitary animals but will gather together where there is plenty of food, such as at salmon streams and whitebark pine sites. When a female grizzly bear leaves her mother after 2 to 3 years, she often sets up her home range quite close to her mother’s home range. Males will most often range further, but may also remain close by. A grizzly bear can live for 25 to 30 years.
Female grizzly bears usually have cubs when they are four or five years old. Males do not help raise the cubs. In fact, males can be a danger to the cubs, so females often avoid male grizzly bears while rearing their cubs. Litter sizes can be from 1 to 4 cubs, but are usually just 2 or 3 cubs. Newborn cubs weigh just over a pound, while a full grown male can weigh over 700 pounds.
Grizzly bears are more dangerous when they have cubs to care for, which can lead them to attack even humans while protecting their cubs. They generally do not like contact with humans, and they often disappear into woods when a human comes near them.
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