Grizzly Bears Essay, Research Paper
Extra Credit Paper3/5/99 Grizzly Bears The grizzly bear or great bear is the largest predator in the contiguous 48 states. When you enter the bear’s territory, you are in his home and he is king. This is their domain. The North American grizzly bear is a large, powerful brown bear characterized by gray-streaked, or grizzled, fur. Grizzlies range from 6 to 8 feet long, stand approximately 3 1/2 to 4 feet at the humped shoulder, and weigh up to 800 pounds. The grizzly bear is characterized as being an omnivore whose diet general consists of approximately eighty percent vegetarian items like plants, roots and berries. Various animals supplement the remaining portion of their diet. Grizzly bears are excellent hunters and prey on large mammals such as deer and smaller mammals like fish, ants and other insects. Their dominance over the animal kingdom food chain is superior and ultimately have only one competitor, humans. Grizzly bears were once widespread in the western half of North America, from the Arctic Circle to central Mexico, however habitat destruction and hunters have nearly exterminated the grizzly, their populations are currently restricted to some regions of Alaska, western Canada, and the U.S. Rocky Mountains. Classified as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Bears are heavyset mammals that constitute the family Ursidae in the order Carnivora. Most american grizzly bears usually inhabit rough, forested lands that provide bountiful food and cover. Bears have a massive, long-snouted head and a stumpy tail. Short, thick legs end in large, five-toed feet, and each toe is armed with a long, heavy claw. The powerful jaws are lined with wide, flat-topped molars for grinding food; bears also have four long canine teeth. Most have loose skin and long, shaggy fur. They have an excellent sense of smell but poor vision and hearing.
The breeding season for bears is in summer, after which each bear prepares for winter. This is especially important for the pregnant female, whose cubs will be born during the winter sleep. All bears, however, eat heavily during summer and autumn to store fat for winter. A bear’s winter sleep is not true hibernation, since the body temperature remains high and the animal emerges from the den to walk about on mild winter days. The female gives birth to from 1 to 4 cubs at a time, with a litter every 2 years. Young grizzly bears spend a great deal of their youth bonding with their mother, rarely would you see a cub away from its mother. They usually stay with her for a year or two while the mother defends them against all intruders, including humans and sometimes cannibalistic male bears. As they mature and become an adult, grizzly bears become solitary animals. Since prehistoric times, humans have hunted bears for their meat, bone, sinew, fur, and fat. Favorite ornaments of many primitive peoples are bear teeth and claws. The American Indians as well as other civilizations have made the bear the center of myths and legends for centuries. As society supposedly became more civilized, they no longer needed bears for their substinence but were still captivated by their superiority in the animal kingdom. People today must often be reminded that all bears are short-tempered and dangerous; a bear can kill a human with one swipe of its paw. With this being the case, people feet a sense of pride within themselves when they kill a bear and display their carcass in their home as a rug or a glorified paperweight. As agriculture and urbanization have advanced, bear habitats have disappeared, and some species are now almost extinct.