Bergman's Bear is a subspecies of the Brown Bear that lived in the Kamchatka Peninsula. It is named for Sten Bergman, the Swedish zoologist who identified it. The formal scientific name for the species is Ursus arctos piscator.
The Bergman’s Bear is most likely an extinct subspecies of the Brown Bear or Black Bear. Bergman identified it as a separate subspecies because its hide had a different texture than most Brown Bears, and its foot prints suggested a bear much larger than typical for a Brown Bear. Bergman is the only scientific study of a Ursus arctos piscator specimen’s remains.
One theory to explain the Bergman’s Bear is that it is a remnant population of Arctodus simus, a massive bear that was six feet tall at the shoulder. This bear did exist in Russia thousands of years ago but is extinct today. However, a dwarf version of the bear may still exist in the subarctic woods. One piece of evidence supporting this theory is that dwarf mammoths survived on Alaskan islands up until several thousand years ago, long after their larger mainland kin were hunted to extinction. Another possible explanation to Bergman’s Bear is that it is a periodic mutation found in the Brown Bear population that results in malformation.
It had short black fur, in contrast to the long brown fur of most bears in Kamchatka.
The bear is bigger than the Brown Bear. It is sometimes called the God Bear because it is so big. (Ironically, the Ainu of nearby northern Japan actually worship the bear as the father spirit. This may or may not be related to the choice to call it the God Bear.) The bear is also called the Irkuieumm meaning “trousers pulled down”. This is a reference to the bear’s thin back legs and a thick layer of butt fat.
The Kamchatkan reindeer hunters interviewed in the 1980s said it was a good swimmer, carnivorous and regularly hunted reindeer.
Bergman’s Bear has only been reported in Kamchatka. This bear may actually exist, since there are many brown bears living in Kamchatka. The habitat is relatively pristine and its condition is actually improving, due to the Kamchatka peninsula being nearly off limits to human intervention throughout the Cold War by the Russian military and the subsequent population drop in the area after the Cold War ended. Hunting of bears for sport or protection thus dropped. Russian huntsman, Rodion Sivoblolv, said that the bears were reported by the local Chukchi natives in the 1980s.
A more recent explanation for the bear may be the genetic analysis of several bears that are hybrids of polar bears and Grizzly Bears / Brown Bears. These “grolar” bears have been found in the Canadian Arctic, and Polar Bears may have previously lived on the Russian side of the Bering straights or an existing colony of polar bears may live there without human knowledge. Such hybrids have white or a mixture of brown and white fur, long claws and a humped back. A Brown Bear / Polar Bear hybrid thus could have a fat butt over thinner legs that looks like the “pulled down trousers” attributing to the Bergman’s Bear, while retaining the swimming ability and carnivorous nature of the Polar Bear. Second generation Brown Bear / Polar Bear hybrids have been found, retaining low claws and a carnivorous preference.
Then again, Bergman’s Bear may simply be an unusually large specimen of Ursus arctos beringianus, the Kamchatka Brown Bear, which is already the largest Eurasian Bear known.