Invitation: Meet Ursus Arctos Horriblis

brown bear fishing Brooks Falls Alaska
Grizzly Bear Fishing Brooks Falls / Image Dmitry Azovtsev

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists

Can you recognize a grizzly bear? Larger than his black bear cousins, he has thick fur which can range from dark to blonde. A hump over his shoulders aids in sprinting and digging. Unlike his cousin the black bear, the grizzly has a high forehead which dips down before leveling out into a straight snout. Longer claws help dig up meals. Combined, the grizzly’s traits allow him to survive and flourish in diverse, challenging environments. Ursus arctos horriblis is a magnificent creature.

Want more? Frontier Scientists has released a new series of vodcasts about the mighty grizzly bears of Denali National Park. Short videos feature field biologists and interpreters who have the difficult task of keeping Alaska bears un-acclimated to humans–and the humans who are visiting the Far North safe from bears.

To encourage people to view the videos, Frontier Scientists is inviting the public to send in their own photos of grizzly bears, which will be posted on the website. Submit photos in 300 dpi jpegs on this page: Readers Invited to Submit Bear Photos.

Frontier Scientists is an interactive website. Their mission is to connect Alaska field scientists to people curious about Arctic discoveries, making science more accessible to the public. The vodcasts are produced by an award-winning WonderVisions videographer who specializes in backcountry nature films, Liz O’Connell.

This summer, O’Connell worked alongside a Denali National Park wildlife biologist and bear-expert, a park interpreter, and park-goers with amazing bear experiences, shooting footage to document how grizzlies are managed in the park. O’Connell has this to say:
“It may surprise some that the biologist who is the best shot in the Park is a woman, Pat Owen, who stands about 5’5. She’s the one who darts the bears. She relates in one video how she had to approach close enough to one really big grizzly to get it to charge her after it had been darted, so it would be out of the brush before the tranquilizer kicked in.”

brown bear and cubs fishing
Grizzly Bear Fishers / Courtesy Barry Aumiller, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

After a bear is downed with tranquilizer, biologists weigh and measure the creature, take blood and hair samples, assess the bear’s health, and put on a radio-collar. Radio-collars on bears provide scientists data on bear habits, population, and movement. Increasingly advanced high-tech. collars, include GPS locators, providing more and better data.

The new short videos includes visitor accounts of backcountry grizzly encounters, and our own videographer’s footage of bears just being bears: a mama bear tussling with her cub, a big adult feeding on berries. Back on the science side, sharp-shot Pat Owen relates how bears are captured for radio collaring–including the darting of a bear so big (803 pounds) it required a double dose of tranquilizer. Find out what bear experts do to cope with the “teenage boy” antics of newly-independent juvenile bears (think: rubber projectiles fired into rear ends) to maintain an environment where humans and an estimated 350 Denali grizzly bears can safely exist alongside one another. This is Frontier science.

Send in your photos.

Frontier Scientists: presenting scientific discovery in the Arctic and beyond

Watch ‘Grizzlies: Pat’s Big Bear’.

Project Grizzlies