Grizzly or black bear? How do you tell the difference?

It can be difficult to tell the difference between black and grizzly bears.  Brown colored bears are often reported as grizzly bears but remember that black bears come in a variety of colors-everything from the white Kermode bear through their namesake black and every shade of brown in between.  Black bears have longer pointed ears, short dark claws, a straight face profile and their muzzle is usually lighter in color.  Grizzly bears also have a variety of colors ranging from black to almost blonde.  Grizzly bears have long light colored claws, shorter rounded ears, a dished face profile and a shoulder hump.

Whether it is a black or a grizzly bear, if it is surprised at close range it is likely to react defensively.  That is why it is important to make noise to warn bears of your presence and avoid surprise encounters and have bear spray ready and accessible just in case.

black bear traits

grizzly traits

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