Black vs Grizzly Bears

grizzly bear safety
grizzly bear safety

Black vs Grizzly Bears

grizzly bear safety

The Different Types of Bears

Here in Wyoming we have two species of bears, black bears (Ursus americanus) and grizzly bears (Ursus arctos). These two species differ in their habitat preferences, behaviors, and physical attributes. Black bears generally prefer forested habitats and can be found throughout the state of Wyoming and many other states. Grizzly bears have a broader range of habitats but prefer riparian areas, meadows, and prairie habitats. In North America grizzly bears can be found in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Alaska, and eastern Canada; however, their range is expanding. To learn how to identify these species correctly please keep reading and take the quiz below.

grizzly bear safety

Black Bears

Black bears can vary widely in size, but adults generally stand between 5 and 6 feet tall when standing on their hind legs. Despite its name, its fur color can range from jet black to variations of brown, cinnamon, blonde, or even bluish hues.

Defining features include:

  • No shoulder hump, although they may appear to have one when their heads are down.
  • Short, strongly curved claws, suited for climbing trees and ripping open logs for insects.
  • Straight facial profile from top of head to tip of nose.
  • Larger, more prominent ears situated on top of the head.

Fur color is not a reliable way to identify a bear species!

Grizzly Bears

Grizzly bears can vary widely in size as adults and can weigh between 180 and 800 pounds, standing up to 8 feet tall on their hind legs. Its fur can range from blond to dark brown, usually with silver-tipped guard hairs highlighting these colors, giving it a “grizzled” look.

Key features:

  • Shoulder hump, made of muscle for digging.
  • Longer, straighter claws also ideal for digging.
  • Dish-shaped facial profile.
  • Shorter, more rounded ears.

Fur color is not a reliable way to identify a bear species!

Test Your Bear Knowledge

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department created this interactive, online exam consisting of 16 true/false questions. Test your knowledge and ability to identify grizzly bears and black bears based on their unique characteristics and behaviors.