10×14 watercolor enhanced colored pencil. Original available.
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The grizzly bear, sometimes called the silvertip bear, is a powerful brownish-yellow bear that lives in the uplands of western North America. It has traditionally been treated as a subspecies, Ursus arctos horribilis, of the brown bear living in North America.
Grizzly bears reach weights of 180–680 kilograms (400–1,500 pounds) and stand 2.44 m (8 ft) tall on its hind legs.; the male is on average 1.8 times as heavy as the female, an example of sexual dimorphism. This dimorphism suggests that size is an important factor in the male’s ability to successfully compete for and attract breeding opportunities. Their coloring ranges widely across geographic areas, from blond to deep brown or black. These differences, once attributed to subspeciation, are now thought to be primarily due to the different environments these bears inhabit, particularly with regard to diet and temperature. Grizzlies can be distinguished from most other brown bear subspecies by their proportionately longer claws and cranial profile which resembles that of the polar bear.
The grizzly has a large hump over the shoulders which is a muscle mass used to power the forelimbs in digging. The head is large and round with a concave facial profile. In spite of their massive size, these bears can run at speeds of up to fifty-five kilometers per hour (thirty-five miles per hour).
Normally a solitary active animal, in coastal areas the grizzly congregates alongside streams and rivers during the salmon spawn. Every other year females (sows) produce one to four young (most commonly two) which are small and weigh only about 500 grams (one pound). Sows are very protective of their offspring.
Legal status The grizzly bear is listed as threatened in the contiguous United States, and endangered in parts of Canada. In May 2002, the Canadian Species at Risk Act listed the Prairie population (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba range) of grizzly bears as being extirpated in Canada. In Alaska and parts of Canada however, the grizzly is still legally shot for sport by hunters. On January 9, 2006, the US Fish and Wildlife service proposed to remove Yellowstone grizzlies from the list of threatened and protected species.
On September 3, 2007, a rare grizzly bear (400 – 500 pounds, 6 – 8 years old) was killed by a hunter (from Tennessee) near Kelly Creek 3 miles from Montana border (while on a guided trip, hunting black bear with bait). In April, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lifted Endangered Species Act protections for grizzlies in Yellowstone National Park. The bear was in the Selway-Bitterroot ecosystem that includes part of north-central Idaho and western Montana. Federal and state wildlife officials investigated the killing.
Some biologists have argued that the word horribilis should be removed from the bear’s taxonomic name, as its negative connotations may hinder conservation efforts. This change would not be permitted by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature.