Brown bears, Ursus arctos, are keystone predators in coastal ecosystems. Bears feed on live salmon, salmon carcasses, berries, roots, and grasses. Many people know this species as “grizzly bear,” but in coastal regions they’re more commonly known as brown bears, or coastal brown bears. Adult brown bears can weigh anywhere between 220 and 1,110 lbs (100 and 635 kg), and the largest of bears can stand more than 10 feet tall on its hind legs.
Brown bears can consume upward of 90 lbs (40 kg) of food per day in anticipation of hibernation. In coastal regions where bears have consistent access to salmon, they may eat parts from more than 100 different salmon and salmon carcasses each day, targeting the energy-rich and fatty roe, brains, and gonads of the fish. Bears then leave these partially-eaten carcasses, anywhere from a few inches to 50 or more meters from the spawning grounds, making them accessible to smaller scavengers, such as mink, marten, ravens, and magpies.
If you’d like to read more about our work with brown bears in Southeast Alaska, see photos of bears from our trail cameras, or learn more about brown bears in coastal regions, check out the following blog posts: