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Kodiak Bear

largest kodiak brown bear
  • The kodiak bear is a subspecies of the brown bear. It is the largest of the subspecies and one of the largest bears in the world.
  • Kodiak bears live in the Kodiak Archipelago on the southern end of Alaska in the Gulf of Alaska. This area is comprised of several islands including Kodiak Island. This is perfect bear habitat. The territory is rich with coastal shores, rivers, heavy forests, vegetation, fish, and animals. These factors are responsible for the producing some of the largest bears.
  • The archipelago is isolated and minimally disturbed by humans, allowing the kodiak brown bear to complete its life cycle and thrive.
  • These large animals are omnivorous and there is a good variety of food sources in their territory. They diet on all kinds of vegetation. Like other species of bears they like berries, nuts, leaves, insects, grass, and root vegetables. They also eat salmon, which is abundant where they live. As the year goes by, they become more choosy and prefer to eat more calorie rich foods. This enables them to store more fat for the coming winter months.
  • They have a very sensitive sense of smell and good hearing. This is a natural adaptation to locate prey and defend against danger. They will stand on their hind legs to investigate smells and sounds.
  • They will often pretend to attack by charging straight for the intruder then stop short of a conflict. Growling and displaying their teeth is another form of posturing. Conflicts can be deadly so they prefer to display ferocity instead of actual engagement.
  • Some of the largest kodiak bears (male) can reach up to 1500 pounds and are the largest gender. Females weigh about 1000 pounds. They can reach over 10.5 feet tall when standing upright. They are truly gigantic and can be awe inspiring when seen up close in the wild.
  • In the winter they hibernate due to food scarcity and cold temperatures. Their circulatory system, metabolic rate, and body temperature decrease. This allows the Kodiak to survive the winter by conserving energy and using stored fat tissue. They enter their den in October to November and emerge in spring.
  • Breeding season is usually around the months of May through July. Partners will stay with each other for a week or two.
  • It is estimated that the total population is only about 3200.
  • A female Kodiak bear is called a sow.
  • A male is referred to as a boar.
  • Litter size averages 1 to 3 cubs.
  • Cubs are born blind and helpless and cry out for their mother when hungry. They appear almost smooth due to their fine hair. They weight under 16 ounces.
  • Occasionally cubs are subject to attacks by other adult male bears.
  • Kodiak bear attacks are unlikely. However when hiking it is a good idea to create a lot of noise. Banging pans, talking loudly, or using special animal whistles can be effective. The idea is to make them aware of your presence so they can flee if frightened. If surprised, they may possible charge in confusion.
  • Should you encounter a mother and cubs, it is time to retreat from the vicinity. A mother will defend her babies if she senses they are threatened.
  • Largest threats to the kodiak bear include subtle changes to their environment due to global warming and attacks on their territories by increased human activity. Alaskan energy development projects can disrupt their behavior and ecosystem.

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