Check out our handy guide to the wildlife highlights of the Bering Sea, which stretches from the Aleutians to the Chukchi Sea and Wrangel Island.Read more...
Grizzlies dig the coastal tundra for roots but also for the Arctic ground squirrel Citellus parryi – sik-sik or suslik © Volodymyr Burdiak, Shutterstock
Once much more widely distributed, the grizzly has now retreated to the relatively few remaining wildernesses, but there is a fair chance of seeing one on the coastal Arctic tundra. Though closely related to the polar bear, it is a land-based animal. In colour, it is a mix of chocolate-brown, tan and sandy-buff. Unlike the polar bear, it is decidedly territorial, and aggressive in defence of its resident females.
As a tundra-dweller, the brown bear’s diet contains a high proportion of plant food, including berries and roots. But it will hunt whatever mammals present themselves, from caribou/reindeer to lemmings and voles. Although they have been known to kill a seal, they are more likely to scavenge the sea ice, taking advantage of the leftovers from a polar bear kill.
The Sami people of Siberia regard them as sacred, treating them as messengers from the gods, worthy of proper respect while still a welcome food source. Like its marine cousin, the grizzly is dangerous, as it is more inclined to attack than retreat.