The Kodiak bear, Ursus arctos middendorffi, is the largest subspecies of brown bear and holds the record for being the largest bear species in the world. Native to the Kodiak Archipelago in the Gulf of Alaska, the Kodiak bear was once found throughout the coastal regions of Alaska and even into Canada. Today, the Kodiak bear is only found on the islands of the Kodiak Archipelago, where it is the apex predator.
Size is the Kodiak bear’s primary claim to fame and the biggest Kodiak bear ever recorded was a male that weighed in at an estimated 1,323 pounds. This record-breaking bear was shot in 1960 on Kodiak Island by Robert “Spider” Phillips, who had been hunting for trophy game. The bear measured 10 feet, 7 inches from the tip of its nose to the tip of its tail and 9 feet, 6 inches from the tip of its nose to the base of its tail.
Kodiak bears have thick fur and a dense undercoat, which helps to insulate them from the cold Alaskan climate. In the winter, when food is scarce, Kodiak bears hibernate for up to seven months. During this time, they can lose up to a quarter of their body weight and still survive.
Kodiak bears are omnivorous and their diet consists of salmon, clams, berries, sea urchins, and other small mammals. During the summer, they feed almost exclusively on salmon and can consume as many as 15 in one sitting. In the winter, they feed on vegetation and scavenge the remains of other animals.
Kodiak bears are typically solitary animals and do not gather in large numbers except during the summer salmon runs. During these runs, bears gather in huge numbers to feast on the abundant salmon. The males compete for the best fishing spots and the strongest males often establish dominance by roaring and displaying their size.
Kodiak bears are an impressive species and the biggest Kodiak bear ever recorded stands as a testament to the power and strength of this species. Although these bears have been bountied, hunted, and their habitat fragmented, they continue to thrive in the wilds of Alaska. The Kodiak bear is truly an impressive species and a symbol of the rugged beauty of the Alaskan wilderness.