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Bear Identification

Telling a grizzly bear from a black bear can be a challenge because many physical indicators vary with sex and age, and size is also not a reliable indicator. Bear identification is important for your safety and to protect bears. When you know whether you are dealing with a grizzly or a black bear, you know something about the most appropriate actions to take.

Bear ID image from the Center for Wildlife Information.

Color and size can be misleading. Look for a combination of characteristics.

  Grizzly Bear Black Bear
Color Varies from blond to black Varies from blond to black
Shoulder hump Distinctive shoulder hump No distinctive shoulder hump
Rump Lower than shoulder hump Higher than front shoulder
Face profile Dished-in between eyes and snout Straight
Ears Short and rounded Tall and pointed.
Front claws 2-4 inches long, slightly curved Less than two inches long and curved
Tracks Claw marks are usually visible in tracks Claw marks are not usually visible in tracks

For more information visit the Center for Wildlife Information Web site .