Serwis poświęcony przyrodzie województwa podkarpackiego

Brown bear

                                 BROWN BEAR Ursus arctos


It is hard to imagine the Carpathians without their largest mammal – the brown bear. Bear observation in the field is extremely difficult due to their secretive lifestyle and large territories. Individual trails, feeding traces, or lairs are usually found by accident.



In Poland, bears live only in the Carpathian Mountains. In the Polish part of the Carpathians, 5 brown bear refuges have been found: Żywiec Beskids; Tatra Mountains; Beskid Sądecki, Gorce and Pieniny Mountains; Low Beskids and the Bieszczady Mountains. Based on annual estimates by various units of the State Forests, 53 4818 ha covered by the project is home to almost 200 bears.


Species Description

  • Body Mass: 140–190 kg
  • Body Length: 160–220 cm
  • Shoulder Height: 92–135 cm
  • Sexual Dimorphism: visible, males are larger than females
  • Nutrition: carnivore, predator
  • Lifestyle: solitary
  • Lifespan: 30–40 years


Biology and ecology

Brown bears are a typical solitary species. They reach maturity at ages between 2.5 and 4 years. Their mating season is usually once a year between the beginning of May and the beginning of July. Females of reproductive age mate with several partners, which makes it possible that each of the cubs of a single mother has a different father. The cubs are birthed in the lair, during winter hibernation (December-March). A single litter may range from 1 to 3 cubs, rarely more. Until they can fend for themselves, the cubs remain with their mother. Bears are active in deserted areas, mostly during daytime, in populated areas they feed and move mostly in the early morning, in the evening and at night. The regular activity and feeding period for this species is the spring and summer time. In autumn, bears feed intensively in order to develop an appropriate layer of fat for the winter. During winter, the bear stays in its well-protected lair. Hibernation is not a coma, and the animal may wake at any moment and resume active life. Bears are omnivores, they consume roots, rhizomes, tubers, fruit, seeds, invertebrates, and vertebrates. In areas where they live near humans, food of anthropogenic origin is also a main source of food. The brown bear is a species with huge spatial requirements, but also adaptability to various habitats. Male territories are usually significantly larger then female ones, both overlap to a lesser or greater extent. The territory size for males in the Bieszczady Mountains is estimated as 520–1540 km2, and for females, 670 km2.


Protection and hazards

Bears mostly reside in forests. Due to their tremendous spatial requirements, the forest complexes area should be adequately large. Therefore, it is beneficial to preserve the extensive and consistent forest complexes, where predators may move freely.


International law

  • Habitat Directive – Appendix II and IV
  • Bern Convention – Appendix II, recommendation 74
  • Washington Convention (CITES) – Appendix II
  • Regulation Council (EC) 338/97 – Appendix A

National legislation

  • Species protection – strict protection – species requiring active protection
  • Periodical protection zone: the lair and a radius of 500 m from therefrom between 1.11 and 30.04

IUCN threat category

  • IUCN Red List – LC (least concern)
  • Red List of vanishing and endangered species in Poland (2002) – NT (near threatened)
  • Polish Red Book (2001) – NT (near threatened)
  • Red List for the Carpathians (2003) – EN (in Poland – EN) (endangered)



Brown bear, fot. Bartosz...
Traces of brown bear,...
Resting place of the...

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