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Grizzly Bear

Montana State Animal

Grizzly bear; photo by Kevin Duffy on Flickr (noncommercial use permitted with attribution).

Official State Animal of Montana

Montana designated the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) as the official state animal in 1983. Grizzly bears can be found in Glacier National Park and the mountains of northwest Montana. All State Mammals

As an exercise in the Democratic process, more than 55,000 students in 425 schools participated in an election to select a mammal symbol for Montana. 74 different animals native to Montana were nominated, but after the students conducted primary and general elections (including posters, voter rosters, speeches, campaign buttons, bumper stickers, and party caucuses), the grizzly bear won over the runner-up (the elk).

Grizzly Bear Facts

Grizzly bears are the largest carnivores in America. An adult grizzly bear can stand 8 feet tall on its hind legs, weigh up to 1,500 pounds, and run at speeds up to thirty-five miles an hour.

Their coloring ranges from blond to deep brown or black. Grizzly bears are omnivorous, feeding on a variety of plants (including berries, roots, sprouts, and fungi) as well as fish, insects and small mammals. A grizzly bear will put on hundreds of pounds of fat in preparation for winter hibernation.

The grizzly bear is considered a subspecies of brown bear, distinguished by their larger size, longer claws, and concave facial profile. The grizzly also has a large hump over the shoulders (a mass of muscle used to power the forelimbs in digging). Wildlife experts say fewer than 1,000 grizzlies are left in the western United States. The grizzly bear is listed as threatened in the contiguous United States and endangered in parts of Canada.