The grizzly bear is one of the 2 species of bear that are found in the Denali National Park area, along with the black bear. Adult grizzly bears are large; males can weigh up to 850 pounds and adult females can weigh 450 pounds. They are 3-3.5 feet tall, 6-7 feet long and have front claws the size of human fingers. They swim well and can run at bursts of speed up to 35 mph. Despite their size and prowess, grizzly bears are shy and solitary and tend to avoid confrontation. They can be very aggressive, however, when surprised, provoked or threatened, particularly when protecting a kill or a mother protecting her cubs.
Grizzly bears are omnivorous with a diet consisting largely of berries, roots, insects and small mammals such as the arctic ground squirrel. They will hunt baby moose and caribou and will eat carrion. Beginning mid-summer, they eat almost continuously so as to build fat stores in preparation for hibernation.
Grizzly bears hibernate for 5-8 months and during hibernation the females bear their young, most frequently giving birth to 2-3 cubs that weigh about one pound each. The babies keep warm by staying close to the mother and begin breast feeding right away. The cubs stay with the mother for 2-4 years.
The best way to prevent a confrontation with a grizzly bear is to avoid any encounters. When out hiking in grizzly bear country, go with a group and make noise; talk loudly, sing and clap your hands. This alerts any bears to your presence and gives time for them to move off.