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Brown Bear

Overview

  • Status
    Least Concern
  • Population
    Over 200,000
  • Scientific Name
    Ursus arctos
  • Height
    3.35 feet to shoulders
  • Weight
    440 to 770 pounds
  • Length
    6.5 feet
  • Habitats
    Forests, Tundra

Few animals have captured the imagination like brown bears. They can stand on two legs, walk on the soles of their feet, pick things up with their “fingers,” and often eat what we eat. This—coupled with their ability to communicate with one another through scratch marks left on trees, smells and sounds— establishes a similarity to our own way of life. Some of the largest living carnivores, brown bears have fallen prey to hunting and other conflicts with humans.

Why They Matter

  • While brown bear population numbers are currently stable, they are considered a high priority in conservation. Given their dependence on large natural areas, brown bears are important management indicators for a number of other wildlife species. Brown bears also play important roles as predators who keep other animal populations in check. Additionally, they act as seed dispersers, helping to sustain their own environment.

Threats

  • Population Over 200,000
  • Extinction Risk Least Concern
    1. EX
      Extinct

      No reasonable doubt that the last individual has died

    2. EW
      Extinct in the Wild

      Known only to survive in cultivation, in captivity or as a naturalised population

    3. CR
      Critically Endangered

      Facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the Wild

    4. EN
      Endangered

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    5. VU
      Vulnerable

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    6. NT
      Near Threatened

      Likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future

    7. LC
      Least Concern

      Does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, or Near Threatened

Brown Bear and Three Cubs

Formerly hunted for its hides, meat, and as a big game trophy, the brown bear’s most severe threats are currently habitat destruction and persecution.

Hunting

Brown bears were pursued extensively due to their size, valuable furs and meat. The brown bear population now occupies just 2% of its former range. Bear gall bladders reportedly bring high prices as traditional medicines on the Asian market although there is no evidence that products derived from bear parts have medical value.

Habitat Loss

Human expansion into the bears’ natural habitat, as well as instances where brown bears are considered nuisances, demonstrate the tension that exists between bears and people. Logging, mining, road construction, and other development—coupled with human attempts to prevent brown bears’ interference with things like livestock, crops, water supplies, and garbage bins—all impact this animal population.

What WWF Is Doing

Brown bear habitat, Alaska

WWF works continuously to conserve bear populations and maintain a vital habitat for the bears. This includes forging new partnerships with businesses to ensure that adequate protection is in place.

Related Species

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