Brown Bear


  • Status
    Least Concern
  • Population
  • Scientific Name
    Ursus arctos
  • Height
    3.35 feet to shoulders
  • Weight
    Up to 1,500 lbs
  • 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.

Defending the brown bears of Bristol Bay

Brown bears are not listed as an endangered species—in fact, some populations are doing quite well—but in Southwest Alaska, they face an impending threat from the proposed development of an open-pit gold and copper mine.

brown bear alaska

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.


  • Population 110,000
  • Extinction Risk Least Concern
    1. EX

      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

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    5. VU

      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.


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

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.

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