Which country is home to the highest population of wild bears?
And the answer: Russia.
The Kamchatka brown bear, also known as the "Far Eastern brown bear," lives in several high density populations throughout Russia. Once a widespread and populous species, human encroachment has forced brown bears across the world to retreat to increasingly remote locations. Across Russia, there are an estimated 120,000 bears living today.
As compared to other bear subspecies, the Kamchatka brown bear is an enormous yet relatively harmless breed. It can grow up to 8 feet in length and 9 feet tall when standing, yet this giant of the forest makes its living off of blueberries, salmon, and trout. The large size of these bears is necessary to survive the long, cold Russian winters, where hibernation is necessary for at least six months of the year.
The Kamchatka peninsula is one of the best bear habitats in the world. The migration of salmon supplies a rich and plentiful source of nutrition, as well as the coastal sedge meadows and lush vegetation fed by heavy rainfall. In the summers, these meadows essentially become a "salad bar" for hungry bears and their cubs.
However, human development continues to threaten the continued survival of this bear population. Increasing human access, through road development to expand mining and mineral exploration, is fragmenting the once extensive bear population, and Kamchatka brown bears are now becoming rare in some regions close to human settlements. Conservation efforts have become paramount for ensuring the continued survival of Kamchatka bears.
Want to learn more? Check out the video below.