What Exactly is a Brown Bear?

may8picWhen most hunters think of a brown bear, their thoughts are justifiably transported to Kodiak Island in Alaska. However, there is more to this brown bear species than most people realize. They truly are the main attraction in Alaska but their sub-species are found throughout the world. It is a fact that the reclassification of this species is constantly evolving and rarely agreed upon.  Here are the five main categories of brown bears, besides the common grizzly bear, that are mostly accepted universally.

Kodiak Brown Bear

The brown bear’s genus is classified as Ursus arctos and the subspecies on Kodiak Island is classified as Ursus arctos middendorffi. Kodiak bears are thought to have been separated from their mainland cousins for over 200,000 years and it is definitely thought of as the largest of all the brown bears.

Eurasian Brown Bear

Just like its name implies, the Ursus arctos arctos is found in Eurasia in such countries as Sweden, Finland, Romania, Slovakia, Bosnia and several other countries in the Northern and Eastern hemispheres. They are believed to have the most variation in hair color as the standard grizzly bear and they are also known for their medium body size and wide heads, as well as, their dark claws.   

Kamchatka Brown Bear

The Kamchatka (Ursus arctos beringianus) is considered almost identical to the Kodiak brown bears and possibly the genesis of where the Kodiak bears came from. These Russian bears are also found in extra-large sizes and have about the same coloration as the standard brown bears found on the coasts of Alaska. Their claws are whitish in color and are very visible from long distances. The Kamchatka peninsula is world famous for hosting these bears and they are even found on Saint Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea. 

Ussuri/Hokkaido Brown Bear

The Ursus arctos lasiotus is thought of as the Japanese bear, but it is also living in northeastern China and on the Korean peninsula. The Japanese islands of Hokkaidō and Kunashiri lend this bear its most common nickname, the Hokkaido bear. They are dark in color for the most part and their body size can be accurately described as medium size. They do have a unique physical trait of having longish, dog-looking skulls.

Himalayan Brown Bear

This bear is considered a high altitude bear. The Ursus arctos isabellinus is found in Nepal, Pakistan, Tibet and Northern India. It is the smallest of the brown bears and is very elusive. The Himalayan is thought to be the culprit, which fueled the abominable snowman legend, also known as the Yeti. It takes a hearty beast to live in this corner of the world and they are believed to be the longest hibernating bears.