brown bear

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brown bear

a large ferocious brownish bear, Ursus arctos, inhabiting temperate forests of North America, Europe, and Asia

Brown Bear


(Ursus arctos), a predatory mammal of the family Ursidae. It is widespread in North Africa (Atlas Mountains), Europe, Asia, and all the way to North America, where it is known as the grizzly bear. The brown bear is a forest animal, living mainly in large dense forests. In the USSR it inhabits the entire forested zone of Eurasia and the mountains of the Caucasus and Middle Asia. In most of its area of distribution, the brown bear is found in relatively small numbers; in some places it has been completely exterminated. The brown bear comprises several subspecies (geographic races), differing in size and color. The largest bears are on Kamchatka and in the Primor’e Krai, where they weigh 300 kg or more. The color ranges from almost straw-yellow to very dark black-brown. The brown bear’s diet is predominantly herbivorous—berries, acorns, nuts, and rhizomes—but also includes insects, worms, lizards, frogs, rodents, and other small animals. The bear sometimes attacks young ungulates. In the Far East, fish serves as food (migrating salmon). In the fall, the brown bear retires to its den. During its winter sleep it subsists on stores of fat accumulated during the summer. The brown bear’s winter sleep is not deep; in the event of danger, the animal awakens and abandons its den. With the onset of warm weather, the brown bear, which has become severely emaciated during the winter, begins to feed voraciously. In the south, where there is little snow in winter, the brown bear does not hibernate.

Heat in the female lasts from May to July; the gestation period is about seven months. Once in two years, in the period from the end of December to the beginning of February, the female gives birth to usually two cubs, which it nurses for about four months. The brown bear reaches sexual maturity at the age of three years. Its industrial value is small. The hide is used primarily for rugs, the meat for food. In some places the brown bear damages oat plantings and on rare occasions attacks domestic animals. Its number is decreasing in forests taken over by man and also as a result of industry.


Ognev, S. I. Zveri Vostochnoi Evropy i Severnoi Azii, vol. 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1931.
Mlekopitaiushchie Sovetskogo Soiuza, vol. 2, part 1. Moscow, 1967.
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