Kodiak bears (Ursus arctos middendorffi) are a brown bear (Ursus arctos) subspecies. They reside mostly on Alaska's Kodiak archipelago, hence their name. They also inhabit Shuyak and Admiralty islands, neither of which are far away. Kodiak bears are noteworthy for being the biggest brown bears of all.
In terms of size, Kodiak bears are no joke. Some male Kodiak bears, when on their back legs, can get to more than 10 feet tall. They sometimes even tip the scales at a seriously hefty 1,500 pounds. The females, while still big, are markedly smaller than their male counterparts, however. Kodiak bears tend to live in forests, grasslands and tundras. They are mostly independent in nature. However, it isn't uncommon to see them amass in large units, although that generally is an indication of the presence of food, and plenty of it. They are predominantly diurnal, although if they sense any rivalry over sustenance -- say, too many bears gathering at the same fish-filled stream by day -- they might switch their habits and hunt at night instead. Their reproductive season takes place each year in May and June.
Fish Lover's Diet
Fish, far and away, is the optimal prey animal for Kodiak bears. Pacific salmon specifically is a favorite meat, although it's only accessible to them during the springtime. When these bears eat the calorie-rich fish, they are especially fond of not only the flesh, but also the eggs and brains. In eating, Kodiak bears usually focus on the components of food that can provide them with the most significant nourishment. This helps them pack on the pounds.
Other Prey Animals
Fish isn't the only type of flesh that Kodiak bears eat. They also occasionally go after bovine animals and even deer, including elk. Kodiak bears often hunt these creatures by themselves, but they also sometimes feed on them as carrion -- animals that were killed beforehand by others. When it comes to these types of animals, Kodiak bears prioritize consumption of organs over muscle.
Omnivores at Heart
They might give off the impression of big, tough and fearless carnivores, but Kodiak bears are actually omnivorous. Not only are they omnivorous, non-meat items are actually their biggest staple -- think berries, fruits, grasses and vegetation like bulbs, roots and forbs. They sometimes even chow down on nuts.
Kodiak bears that live in captivity don't go after prey animals as their wild pals do, but they are given similar diets. Kodiak bears in zoos not only feed on lots of fish, they also munch on lots of veggies and fruits.
- North American Bear Center: Kodiak Bears
- PBS Nature: Brown Bear Fact Sheet
- Alaska Department of Fish and Game: Kodiak Bear Fact Sheet
- Ursus International: Kodiak Bears
- Lake Superior Zoo: North American Kodiak Bear
- National Geographic: Brown Bear
- Woodland Park Zoo: Brown Bear
- Buffalo Zoo: Kodiak Bear
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