How to Identify Different
North American Bear Species



There are three different species of bears in North America: the Polar Bear, Grizzly Bear (or Brown) and Black Bear. Here are some ways to tell them apart:


Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus) live in the far north, around the North Pole. They have white fur and are about 4 feet at the shoulder, and 7-11 feet long. Polar bears can weigh up to 1000 pounds.


Polar Bears



Grizzly Bears (Ursus arctos) live in Alaska, western Canada and sections of northwestern United States. They have brown fur, and are the largest North American bear; about 4 feet at the shoulder, and 5-7 feet long. Grizzlies can weigh up to 1,700 pounds. A large back hump and huge front claws identify a grizzly bear.


Black Bears (Ursus americanus) are the most widespread of the North American Bears, living throughout most of Alaska and Canada, and much of the United States. They are usually black, but sometimes have cinnamon or brown colored fur. Black bears have no shoulder hump, short claws and weigh less than grizzly bears (up to 800 pounds).


Cinnamon Color Phase