Kodiak Bear

This is the largest of the brown bears, whose range includes the Kodiak archipelago in the Gulf of Alaska, where salmon is their main prey.


The lives of Kodiak bears are closely interwoven with their environment. They start to enter dens in the autumn, and will spend the winter slumbering in them, relying on their stores of body fat to sustain them. By the following spring, the Kodiak bears may have lost a third of their body weight. They mate around mid-summer but development of the young is delayed, so that the cubs — which are about the size of rats -will be born early the following year.


Distribution: Occurs in western Alaska, on offshore islands including Kodiak, Shuyak and Afognak, and on the Alaskan mainland. The weather here is harsh, especially in winter.

Weight: 159 - 680 kg (350 - 1500 lb); males are heavier.

Length: 180 - 293 cm (71 - 115 in); about 150 cm (59 in) tall.

Maturity: 5 - 7 years; males may not breed until 10.

Gestation Period: 186 - 248 days; embryonic development begins 5 months after fertilization.

Breeding: 1 - 5, normally 2; weaning occurs at 6-8 months.

Food: Omnivorous, eating fruit, vegetation, carrion and salmon.

Lifespan: 20-30 years; 40 in captivity.


Individuals from southerly areas, including females, are lighter in colour.


The claws are black but often turn whitish in older bears. They are about 13 cm (5 in) long.

Standing out

Kodiak bears have a distinctive profile. Genetic studies suggest they have been isolated from other races of brown bear for more than 10,000 years.


These bears stand up to 4 m (13 ft) tall on their hind legs.

Hind paws

These are massive, measuring up to 41 cm (16 in), and support the bear’s weight when it stands up.


The Kodiak bears may dig their own dens, or enlarge existing holes. Not all bears will retreat to a den over the winter.