If you can get past the concept that all grizzlies are brown bears, but not all brown bears are grizzlies—a source of great confusion to some—there is an opportunity to learn about the most wide-ranging species of bear in the world, and one of the most wide-ranging mammals on Earth.
Although “grizzly bear” is used interchangeably with “brown bear” up here in Alaska, “grizzly bear” really refers to any brown bear found in interior North America. Bears found within interior regions of Alaska and Canada as well as remnant interior populations in the western portion of the contiguous US are grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis).
There are only about 1200 grizzly bears found in the lower 48. They primarily exist in designated Recovery Zones in Montana, Wyoming, Washington, and Idaho. Bears of other interior regions and sometime even coastal zones in Eurasia may be referred to as grizzlies, to add to the confusion.
In contrast, there are approximately 32,000 brown bears living in Alaska. Some of Alaska’s islands like Admiralty Island in the Southeast part of the state and the Kodiak Archipelago off the southern coast of mainland Alaska are home to some of the densest populations of brown bears in the world.