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6 Ways to Tell the Difference Between a Grizzly Bear and a Black Bear

National Geographic

Do you know the major differences between grizzly and black bears? 

Hibernation season is wrapping up, and that mean bears will be waking up and heading into the forests.

Read the following for six ways to tell the difference between a grizzly bear and a black bear.

1. Claws

One way to tell the difference between a grizzly bear and a black bear is to look for claw marks. The front claws on a grizzly bear are about two to four inches long and black bears have curled claws typically shorter than two inches.

2. The Hump

Mother Bear And Cub
Grizzly Bear – Notice the hump on its back

 

Grizzly bears have a very distinctive shoulder hump that can be found right behind their ears, and black bear have no such hump.

black bear
Black Bear – No hump (firstpeople.us)

3. Color

This one seems obvious for telling the difference between a grizzly bear and a black bear, but it’s sometimes not so easy. Typically grizzly bears are more brown, and black bears have coats colored anywhere from blonde to black.

4. The Rump

This trait is more easily seen in the profile of these animals, but there’s a distinct difference between the two species. Black bears will typically have a rump that is higher than their head when they are walking, and grizzly bears’ rumps usually slope downwards.

5. Ears

Snarling Black Bear
Black Bear

 

Ears are another way to tell the difference between a grizzly bear and a black bear, but only if you’re pretty close to them. A grizzly’s ears are short and rounded, where as black bears have taller, more pointed ears.

ftd-biggest-bear
Grizzly Bear

6. The Profile 

Looking at a grizzly bear’s face profile there will be a pronounced dished-in appearance in the area between the eyes and snout. Conversely, black bears’ face profile is more straight between the eyes and snout.

These are the major differences between grizzly bears and black bears. Although sex, age, and time of year cause variances for the above mentioned traits, they provide a solid ground work for identifying the differences between a grizzly bear and a black bear.

6 Ways to Tell the Difference Between a Grizzly Bear and a Black Bear