Home > National Parks of Canada > Bear Management in the Rocky Mountain National Parks > Education > Identifying Bears
When trying to distinguish between a grizzly bear and a black bear, don’t
just focus on colour or size. A black bear can be brown and large, while a grizzly bear can be quite dark
and small. Instead, look for these distinguishing features:
1. Shoulder hump: Grizzly bears have a large hump of muscle
across the shoulders. This muscle powers their forelegs to dig out food sources
such as roots, ground squirrels, marmots and bulbs. Their long, curved claws
(5 – 10 cm) function as digging tools. Black bears have no hump, nor
the same digging ability (claw length: 3 – 4 cm).
2. Profile of the face: Grizzly bears have a large, rounded
head with a dish-shaped or concave profile. The profile of a black bear’s
face is straight or ‘roman’.
3. The ears: The ears of a grizzly bear are small, rounded
and set well apart. A black bear’s ears are more prominent.
Can you pick out two black and two grizzy bears below? Check your answer
by placing your cursor on each of the bears.