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Black bear seen just off the road between the Roosevelt-Tower area and Canyon Village during a light mid-September snow.
Both grizzly bears and black bears make their homes in Yellowstone National Park, although their preferences of terrain and physical characteristics are quite different. The grizzly (ursus arctos horribilis; also known as the brown bear), owes its name to its silver flecked or "grizzled" appearance. It has a tawny brown, blonde or black coat and a distinctive shoulder hump just behind the head. Its broad head and snout is said to be "span like" in contrast to the black bear's long and narrow snout. The grizzly's long, fairly straight claws are made for digging and foraging food from the earth. Grizzlies are most often found in open meadows.
The black bear (ursus americanus) has shorter, curved claws that are made for climbing trees. Contrary to its name, the black bear can be cinnamon-brown or brown-black in appearance. It is smaller in size than the grizzly, but both are extremely fast, agile predators.
Bears are omnivores. Grizzlies thrive on the elk and bison that frequent Yellowstone's open meadows. They also eat roots, berries, white bark pine seeds and insects, all of which can be foraged from the soil or low-lying bushes. Grizzlies can often be seen in the Hayden and Lamar Valleys of the Roosevelt-Tower area and near Fishing Bridge. They have occasionally been spotted at the southwestern tip of the park, near Bechler River.
Black bears have a similar diet to grizzlies, but do not generally forage for tubers. They frequent the northeastern section of the park and can be seen near West Thumb and Fishing Bridge.
Both species of bear can be dangerous if approached. Visitors who plan to hike in Yellowstone's back country should familiarize themselves with the National Park Service's advisories for bear safety.
Best selection of books on the Northwest.
Compass American Guides: Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks, 1st Edition by Brian Kevin. Fodor's Compass American Guides have a new design and practical information you need to make the most of your visit to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Easy-to-use practical information you need to get around and experience the best of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Order now...
The Concise Visitor's Guide to Yellowstone by Matt Bolton. Sized perfectly for backpacks this guide offers specifics on food, what to see, children's activities, weather, wildlife, seasonal road closures, ranger programs, visitor centers, what differentiates each section of the park and more. Filled with information, phone numbers, web sites, and detailed maps this is the tool to use when planning a trip to Yellowstone. Order now...
Moon Spotlight Yellowstone National Park by Don Pitcher. 80-page compact guide covering must-see attractions and maps with sightseeing highlights. This lightweight guide is packed with recommendations on sights, entertainment, shopping, recreations, accommodations, food, and transportation, as well as easy-to-read maps. Order now...
National Geographic Park Profiles: Yellowstone Country by Seymour L. Fishbein. Yellowstone Country tours the stunning region that includes Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, a mosaic of national forests, wilderness areas, wildlife refuges, countless waterfalls, hot springs and two-thirds of the world's active geysers. Order now...
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