Glacier Bay National Park is home to brown/grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) and black bears (Ursus americanus). Black bears are found primarily in the forested regions of the lower bay, including Bartlett Cove, while brown bears live mainly in the open, recently deglaciated regions of the upper bay.
Which is Which?
Telling the difference between the two species can be tricky. Simply looking at color doesn’t help. A few key physical characteristics can help to clarify just what type of bear you have spotted.
The following are some key characteristics of black bears:
Brown Bears (also called grizzlies)
Brown bear is another name for grizzly bear and is used to differentiate the coastal residents from the interior-dwelling grizzly. Brown bears can be any shade from honey blonde to black. Brown bears normally weigh up to 900 pounds, occasionally up to as much as 1,400 pounds. They can be identified by their distinct shoulder hump, "dish-shaped" face, and long claws. Brown bears tend to dwell in open terrain, but can be found in the dense forest as well. The following are some key characteristics of brown bears:
Distribution of Bears in Glacier Bay
Scat, Mark Trails, Rub Trees, and Bellyholes
Did You Know?
The tidal fluctuations in Glacier Bay can be as high as 25 feet! Be sure to keep this in mind when you decide to enjoy an after-lunch nap on the beach during your next paddling adventure.