Grizz vs black bear

Grizz vs black bear

David Sparks Ph.D.
David Sparks Ph.D.
While it may seem like an easy task, correctly identifying your target species can be challenging at times. Weather conditions, distance from the animal and misleading appearances can be factors that complicate the task.

Freshen up your identification skills by reviewing characteristics of a few species that are commonly misidentified. A commonly misidentified hunting target is Bears. As we all know there are very specific endangered species laws that carry huge fines and federal prosecutions for taking the wrong species of bear. Never rely on size and color to determine the species of bear, as both can be misleading. Just because a grizzly may appear black and smaller does not mean that it is a black bear. Here's Fish and game official Brian Pearson to help you sort things out.

Black bear versus grizzly bear
Black bear:

No prominent shoulder hump

Straight face profile

Tall ears

Short claws (1-2”)

Grizzly bear:

Prominent shoulder hump

Dished face profile

Short, rounded ears

Long claws (2-4”)

Why it matters
Cases of misidentification result in the harvest of animals that were not intended to be harvested – both by sportsmen and Fish and Game. 

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