Grizzly Bear

The coastal Grizzly Bear is found throughout Kitasoo Xai’xais Traditional Territory, and now protected for generations to come.

The coastal Grizzly Bear is found throughout Kitasoo Xai’xais Traditional Territory. In the spring they are often seen feeding on grasses, tubers, and fresh green shoots in the large river estuaries of the mainland. Once berries ripen the Grizzly Bear will start to vary their diet to include this higher calorie food source. After waiting patiently for the salmon to arrive the bears are rewarded with a feast of epic proportions. This is the time we have the highest densities of Grizzly Bears sharing habitat to put on enough weight for a long winters rest. Grizzly Bears can be seen throughout our season, but as with all wildlife viewing, sightings can be unpredictable.

Bears are an essential part of our Culture, and the coastal ecosystem

Grizzly Bear coats can vary from creamy yellow to almost black. In coastal British Columbia, most are light brown to dark brown; in the Rockies, most have a “silver tip” pattern, in which the long hairs of the shoulder and back are frosted with white.

Grizzly Bears shed their heavy winter coats in late spring and early summer, then re-grow them from mid-August to October. They have a broad head with small, rounded, heavily furred ears, a prominent shoulder hump formed by muscles used in digging, a dish-shaped facial profile, and long, slender yellow or brown claws.  Although it is possible to confuse Grizzly Bears with brown-phase Black Bears, which are common in the interior of the province, there are important differences. 

  • Grizzly claws are much longer than those of Black Bears, and the toes are close together in a fairly straight line. 
  • A grizzly usually walks slowly, swinging its low-slung head from side to side.
  • Grizzlies can run quickly, sometimes as fast as 55 km per hour, even on steep slopes.
  • They are excellent swimmers. 
  • When they are alarmed, Grizzly Bears often stand upright on their hind legs to get a better view of potential dangers


Grizzly cubs usually stay with their mother and den with her for at least two years. During that time they are fiercely protected and learn where to find food as the seasons change and when, where and how to dig a winter den. Grizzly cubs also play a great deal. The period of dependence on the mother is relatively long compared to other mammals. This prepares the cubs for an independent life. In June of the third year, adult females usually breed again, and they chase the cubs, now quite large, off to become self-sufficient.

Understanding Bears

First Nations Partnership