The brown bear is a large, omnivorous mammal found throughout northern and central Europe, Asia, and North America. Adult bears generally weigh between 220 and 1,400 lb and its largest subspecies, the Kodiak bear, is the largest land-based predator.
Brown bears were once abundant in North America, roaming the length of the continent from the Arctic Ocean through to central Mexico. Their decline began with the arrival of European settlers in America. In less than a hundred years, numbers had dropped from 100,000 to 10,000.
The animal has no natural enemies in the wild – except humans.
The Californian, North African (Atlas bear) and Mexican subspecies were hunted to extinction in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the Marsican brown bear in central Italy is believed to have a population of just 30 to 40 bears.
Brown bears can live in a variety of habitats, such as mountainous forests, desert edges, ice fields, tundra, alpine meadows, and coastlines. They prefer habitat that is densely covered and where there is available shelter in the day. The brown bear is generally solitary and more active at night.
The Russian Federation’s Brown Bear numbers near 100,000 animals in the wild, over 50 per cent of the bear populations worldwide. There are less than 100 animals in Italy and Greece. In Lebanon and Pakistan, the Brown Bear is believed to be regionally extinct.
As part of a global effort to protect the planet and the animals that inhabit it, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) administers one of the world’s largest conservation agreements, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES ).
CITES is an agreement between governments to ensure that international trade of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. The CITES protects Brown Bears from illegal poaching for paws, trophies and gallbladders.