Alaska is home to a diverse family of bears. Alaska bears can be divided into Brown Bears, Black Bears, and Polar Bears, and have further divisions within.
The Brown Bear is the most prevalent species, with 98% of the North American population living in Alaska. They are omnivores, so their diet is a mixture of insects, berries, plants , small animals, fish, carrion. You can find the bears at different locations, different times of the year depending on what’s on the menu, what’s ripe, and what’s swimming in the stream.
The most legendary of the Alaska Bears, the Grizzly Bear, is a subspecies of the brown bear, often identified with blond-tipped back hair and darker legs. Bears that dwell in Alaska’s interior, with their lower fat diet, are generally smaller than the bears that live near coastal areas and dining on salmon.
The Kodiak Bears that live on Kodiak Island are the largest of the Brown Bear family.
Black bears are a smaller bear often found in Alaska’s interior. Because they share food sources with the Grizzly, rarely are the two in close proximity. A subspecies of the Black Bear is the Glacier Bear, which wears a lighter coat, and is found on the glacial slopes.
The all-white Polar Bears only inhabit the Arctic coastal regions, and ride the ice floes, usually feeding on seals.
With the Alaska Bears in all their varieties, chance encounters are to be expected. Proper precautions and alertness of your surrounding will enhance your viewing experience and keep you safe. Bears that are feeding or protecting a recent kill are easily agitated, and mother sows with cubs will not hesitate to attack if she feels her cubs are in danger.
The chance to view Alaska’s majestic bears is an opportunity few places in the world can offer. Nature in its rawest form, the most beautiful sight on Earth.