Kamchatka Brown Bear near Dvuhyurtochnoe (23 July 2015) (Robert F. Tobler – Creative Commons Licence)

Accepted scientific name:  Ursus arctos beringianus (Alexander Theodor von Middendorff, 1851)

 Description:  The largest of the Eurasian brown bears, around 2.4 metres in length and weighing up to 700 kg or more.  Fur is usually dark brown with a violet tint; some lighter coloured bears have been observed.  Thought by some authorities to be a North American bear and therefore to actually be of the subspecies U.a. horribilis.

Range:  On the Russian mainland found throughout the Kamchatka Peninsula, northwards into the Anadyrsky District and southwards along coastal strip west of the Sea of Okhotsk to the Stanovoy Range and the Shantar Islands.  Also on Karaginskiy Island and the Kuril Islands.  There is a marginal record of a single bear on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska (see map).

Approximate range of Ursus arctos beringianus (NormanEinstein / Bear Conservation – Creative Commons Licence)

Habitat:  Tundra, deciduous and coniferous forests, streams, rivers and coasts of the region.

Status:  Probably somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 bears but accurate and up to date population figures are not available.  Population probably stable but without robust research data it is not possible to calculate the effect that the largely uncontrolled trophy hunting of these bear is having.  Overall Ursus arctos as a species is listed as “of least concern” by the IUCN and listed in CITES Appendix II.

Life span:  Assumed to be up to around 25 years in the wild.

Food:  Salmon (pink [also known as humpback], sockeye, coho, chum, king and cherry) and Arctic char are major sources of protein.  Bears also eat pine nuts, blueberries, crowberries, cranberries, mountain ash and other berries together with a wide range of vegetation.  They will hunt sea otters and also take carrion such as seals and whales which are washed up on the shoreline.

Behaviour:  Kamchatka brown bears spend up to six months in their winter dens.  Cubs, usually a litter of two or three, are born early in the year in the den.  They will remain with the mother for two to three years during which time she will not become pregnant again.  Except for mating and for mothers with cubs, Kamchatka brown bears are solitary although they will congregate in groups where there are plentiful sources of food, such as at salmon spawning grounds.

Threats:  Mining, habitat loss and fragmentation, hunting, poaching for body parts used in medicine, and conflicts with humans.  Roads built for access to mines are facilitating poachers’ access to bears.


Wildlife Conservation Society Russia

Page updated 17 February 2021