Brown bear

The Brown bear (Ursus arctos) is a widespread species of bear that can be encountered across North American and Euroasia. A lot of different subspecies have developed, and you can read more about them further down on this page.

brown bear

The Brown bear can grow very large and is one of the biggest bears in the world.

The species as a whole is not considered endangered or volnurable by the IUCN, but individual populations can be threatened depending on local conditions. One example is the Himalayan brown bear, which is currently critically endangered due to heavy poaching. Some subspecies of brown bear have already vanished; the Atlas bear did for instance go extinct in Africa in the 19th century, and the last known California grizzly bear was shot in California in 1922.

Scientific classification

Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Order:Carnivora
Family:Ursidae
Genus:Ursus
Species:Ursus arctos

Where?

Examples of places where you can encounter brown bears:

  • Canada
  • United States
  • Scandinavia
  • Spain (in the northernly mountain range Picos de Europa)
  • The Balkans
  • The Carpathian region
  • Russia
  • Asia Minor
  • Central Asia
  • China
  • Hokkaido, Japan

Is the grizzly bear a brown bear?

Yes, the famous Grizzly bear of North America is a subspecies of Brown bear. It´s scientific name is Ursus arctos horribilis.

brown bear cub

Extant subspecies of brown bear

Eurasia & North Africa

Scientific name
English name
Information
Ursus arctos arctos

Eurasian brown bear

Lives in Europe, western Russia and the Caucasus, possibly as far east as the Yenisei River in Yamalo-Nenets Okrug.

 

Ursus arctos beringianus

Kamchatkan brown bear, also known as Far Eastern brown bear

Lives in coastal environments by the Sea of Okhotsk, as far south as the Shantar Islands, Kolyma, the Shelikov Gulf area, the Kamchatka Peninsula, and the Paramushir Island.
Ursus arctos collaris

East Siberian brown bear

Found from the Yenisei River in Russia to the Altai Mountains of northern Mongolia, to north Xinjang and north-eastern Kazakhstan. Its range goes as far north as the south-western part of the Taymyr Peninsula and the Anabar River.

 

This is the easternmost of the Brown bear subspecies, and it is possible to encounter individuals by the coast of the Bering Strait and the coast of the Chukchi Sea in the north.

Ursus arctos gobiensis

Gobi bear

Lives in the Gobi Desert region. Very rarely observed.
Ursus arctos isabellinus

Himalayan brown bear

Lives in northern Pakistand, northern Nepal, and northern and northeastern India.
Ursus arctos lasiotus

Ussuri brown bear, also known as Amur brown bear, Ezo brown bear, and Black grizzly bear

Lives in Russia, China (Heilongjian), Japan (Hokkaido), and on the Korean peninsula.

 

In Russia, it is found on the Kuril Islands, Sakhalin, the Maritime Terrotiry, and in the Ussuri/Amur River region south of the Stanovoy Range

Ursus arctos marsicanus

Marsican brown bear, also known as Apennine brown bear

Lives in Marsica in central Italy
Ursus arctos pruinosus

Tibetan blue bear, also known as Himalayan snow bear

Lives on the Tibetan Plateau. Very rarely observed. Exact range unknown.
Ursus arctos syriacus

Syrian brown bear

Lives in Transcaucasia, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, eastern Lebanon, western Afghanistan,  Pakistan, western Himalayas, and in the Pamir-Alay and Tien Shan Mountains of Central Asia.

 

Has gone extinct in Syria and Israel.

Ursus arctos horribilis

Grizzly bear, also known as North American brown bear

Lives in Canada and the United States. Is found in places such as Alaska, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alberta, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.
Ursus arctos dalli

Dall Island brown bear

Lives on Dall Island, Alaska.

 

Variously recognized as a distinct subspecies or simply a coastal variation.

Ursus arctos gyas

Alaska Peninsula brown bear

Lives along the coast in Alaska, including the Aleutian Islands.

 

Variously recognized as a distinct subspecies or as belonging to the subspecies U. a. middendorffi (Kodiak bear).

Ursus arctos middendorffi

Kodiak bear

Lives in Alaska, where it is chiefly found on the islands Kodiak, Afognak and Shuyak.
Ursus arctos sitkensis

Sitka brown bear

Lives on the ABC Islands of Alaska (Admiralty Island, Baranof Island, Chichagof Island).
Ursus arctos stikeenensis

Stickeen brown bear

Lives in north-western British Columbia, Canada, from the Stikine River to the Skeena River.

 

Variously recognized as a distinct subspecies or as belonging to the subspecies U. a. horribilis.