European Brown Bear, "Scientific name for Brown Bear is Ursus Arctos". The European Brown Bear is related to the Eurasian Brown Bear. The Brown Bear’s historical habitat ranges from England to the Bering Strait, though there are several subspecies. There were even populations related to the Brown Bear in North Africa, though they are now extinct.
Appearance of European Brown Bear
The European Brown Bear has brown fur that ranges from light beige to almost black. The species has an excellent sense of smell. Despite its shambling gate, it can run quickly and is a good swimmer. The head of the European Brown Bear is somewhat round with small, rounded ears. These are not teddy bears, though; they have 42 teeth in a powerful jaw.
Physical Characteristics of European Brown Bear
The European Brown Bear can weigh up to 660 pounds. Males are larger than the females. They range from five to nine feet in length, with those in the Siberian Forests being larger than those in Europe’s heart.
European Brown Bears hibernate through the winter. The female mates over the summer but the embryo does not implant until the winter, and it will not implant at all if she’s malnourished. Females give birth while hibernating (unless the climate is warm enough that they do not hibernate.) The cubs find the teat on their own and start nursing. The female may be as light as 180 pounds after emerging from hibernation. The furred cubs (they give birth to between one and three at a time) follow her out into the springtime.
The European Brown Bear cub stays with the mother for three to four years unless killed. It reaches sexual maturity between three and six years of age but continues growing until ten years old. They can reach thirty years of age, but few pass twenty years of age in the wild.
Behavior of European Brown Bear
The European Brown Bear’s diet is 75% vegetarian, mostly berries, fruit, roots and so forth. Insects are another portion, with Brown Bears seen grazing on termites and other protein rich insects. They will salvage carcasses like road kill and sheep that fall off hillsides. They will kill goats, sheep, chickens, and other animals when hungry but rarely attack humans unless protecting their cubs. Bears will raid beehives for honey. Some bears have become attracted to rapeseed oil (used as a lubricant in machinery) and the ethanol used as fuel in Russia.
Females mate between May and July. A 2005 study of European Brown Bears found that males will kill cubs that are not their own to bring the mother into heat, but that more than half of the females studied mate with multiple males whose territory overlaps their own so that the males are not certain who the father is – thus decreasing the odds he kills her cubs.
Habitat of European Brown Bear
Most European Bears, like their Eurasian Brown Bear cousins, live in Europe. Most European Brown Bears live in Romania and the Balkans. An estimated 14,000 European Brown Bears live in west of the Balkans and Eastern Europe. They can live in the Asian steppes and Arctic shrub lands but prefer temperate forests, river valleys and open meadows.
There are resettlement projects in Austria, Italy, and France to bring the European Brown Bear back to those areas or increase the numbers, genetic diversity, and overall health of brown bear populations in those areas.
Trivia of European Brown Bear
The last brown bears in England were killed around 1000 AD.
Human hunters remain the biggest threat to European Brown Bears; hunting for fur and meat is almost gone, but a large number are poached for their gall, valued in traditional Chinese medicine.
According to a 2014 article by the British paper “The Guardian”, the brown bear is the most abundant large carnivore in Europe. They outnumber wolves by a third or more. And the 15-20,000 in central Europe are exceeded by the 100,000 or more in Russia.