Are there grizzly bears in Maine? Nope. No grizzly bears have been known to roam the state of Maine, but that doesn’t mean there are no bears here. Black bears are quite common in Maine and can often be spotted in wooded areas or even on the side of highways.
Though not as large or intimidating as their grizzly cousins, black bears are still powerful and potentially dangerous animals that should be respected. So, while there may not be grizzly bears in Maine, it’s still important to take precautions if you find yourself in bear country.
Generally, you won’t even know you are anywhere near a black bear, as they do their best to stay away from people. Encounters, though rare, do happen. There are bear safety tips further down, with a link to a maine.gov page all about bear safety.
Were There Ever Grizzlies In Maine?
Native to North America, grizzly bears were heavily hunted and pushed out of the region over time until it was determined that the species was extinct in Maine by 1870. Or so I’ve read. I have never found anything that says grizzlies were ever in Maine, though.
So for now, it’s safe to assume that there are no confirmed sightings or evidence of grizzly bears in Maine.
Although I don’t think there are grizzly bears in Maine, we do have a couple of other pretty controversial animals. Whether or not there are wolves or mountain lions in Maine are both hotly contested questions.
What Is The Difference Between Grizzly Bears And Black Bears?
Grizzly bears and black bears are both species of North American ursids, which makes them cousins within the same family. However, there are some key differences between these two types of bears that make it easy to tell them apart.
The most obvious difference between black bears and grizzly bears is their size.
Grizzlies tend to be much larger than black bears, with males weighing up to 800 pounds. The coloration of the two species is also different. Grizzlies have a unique “grizzled” look, while black bears are usually black or brown in color.
In terms of behavior, grizzly bears tend to be more aggressive and territorial than black bears. They also have a greater appetite for meat and are more likely to attack if they feel threatened.
On the other hand, black bears tend to be more timid and shy away from people.
Finally, grizzly bear tracks are typically larger than those of black bears, making them easier to identify in the wild. So while there may not be grizzly bears in Maine, you can still tell the difference between a black bear and a grizzly if you ever come across any tracks.
The only bear tracks I’ve ever seen were in snow far above the Arctic Circle, which means they were polar bears. Very scary!
Corny Joke About Grizzly vs Black Bear Identification
A hiker visiting Alaska asked a guide about how to stay safe, knowing there were black bears and grizzly bears around. The hiker only had bear spray for defense. The guide said to carry little jingle bells on the hike which would at least let the bears know a person was in the area.
The hiker then asked about the difference in the bear scat in case coming across any. If any happened to be along the trail, at least it would be a good warning sign.
The guide explained the black bear scat in detail, with bits of seeds and maybe some grass visible in it. The guide then told the hiker that grizzly scat was easier to identify. Just look for the bells!
Sorry. Cheesy. I know.
Common Facts About Grizzly Bears
Grizzly bears are one of the most iconic animals in some parts of North America. They are large, powerful omnivores that have captivated people for generations with their impressive size and strength.
So what really sets grizzly bears apart from other species? Here are some common facts about grizzlies that you may not know:
➡️ Grizzly bears are actually a subspecies of the brown bear, Ursus arctos. They’re found throughout North America and Canada in coastal areas and mountain regions.
➡️ Grizzly bears can weigh up to 800 pounds and grow up to 8 feet tall when standing on their hind legs. Females tend to be smaller than males.
➡️ While grizzly bears are omnivores, they primarily feed on plants and berries that grow in their environment. But these large animals will also eat fish, small mammals, and carrion when available.
➡️ Grizzlies have a unique “grizzled” look to their fur, which gives them their name.
➡️ They also have a distinctive shoulder hump (due to massive muscles), which is used for digging and tearing apart food sources.
➡️ Unlike black bears, grizzly bears are more territorial and can be aggressive when threatened.
What Is The Most Dangerous Bear?
While grizzlies are more dangerous than black bears, polar bears are more dangerous than grizzlies. Polar bears will actively track and hunt humans, unlike other bears that might attack you if they come across you, or if they have cubs.
Polar bears just want to eat you. Plain and simple. I learned how dangerous they are while living in remote villages in Alaska. Sadly, there were people who disappeared, and the only possible conclusion was polar bears.
The bears would come into the village, and typically the bear patrol would scare them back out, but if you went too far outside the village, it was always a possibility that you could encounter a polar bear.
Bear Safety Tips From The National Park Service
➡️ Identify yourself by talking calmly so the bear knows you are a human and not a prey animal. Remain still; stand your ground but slowly wave your arms. Help the bear recognize you as a human.
➡️ It may come closer or stand on its hind legs to get a better look or smell. A standing bear is usually curious, not threatening.
➡️ Stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack you; they usually just want to be left alone. Bears may bluff their way out of an encounter by charging and then turning away at the last second.
➡️ Bears may also react defensively by wooﬁng, yawning, salivating, growling, snapping their jaws, and laying their ears back. Continue to talk to the bear in low tones; this will help you stay calmer, and it won’t be threatening to the bear.
➡️ A scream or sudden movement may trigger an attack. Never imitate bear sounds or make a high-pitched squeal.
➡️ Pick up small children immediately. Do not make any loud noises or screams—the bear may think it’s the sound of a prey animal. Slowly wave your arms above your head and tell the bear to back off.
➡️ Do NOT run or make any sudden movements. Do not make any loud noises or screams—again, the bear may think it’s the sound of a prey animal.
➡️ Hike and travel in groups. Groups of people are usually noisier and smellier than a single person. Therefore, bears often become aware of groups of people at greater distances, and because of their cumulative size, groups are also intimidating to bears.
➡️ Make yourselves look as large as possible (for example, move to higher ground).
➡️ Do NOT allow the bear access to your food. Getting your food will only encourage the bear and make the problem worse for others.
➡️ Do NOT drop your pack as it can provide protection for your back and prevent a bear from accessing your food.
➡️ If the bear is stationary, move away slowly and sideways; this allows you to keep an eye on the bear and avoid tripping. Moving sideways is also non-threatening to bears.
➡️ Do NOT run, but if the bear follows, stop and hold your ground. Bears can run as fast as a racehorse both uphill and down. Like dogs, they will chase ﬂeeing animals.
➡️ Do NOT climb a tree. Both grizzlies and black bears can climb trees.
➡️ Leave the area or take a detour. If this is impossible, wait until the bear moves away. Always leave the bear an escape route.
➡️ Be especially cautious if you see a female with cubs; never place yourself between a mother and her cub, and never attempt to approach them. The chances of an attack escalate greatly if she perceives you as a danger to her cubs.
Conclusion: Are There Grizzly Bears In Maine?
No, there are no grizzly bears in Maine. While you can find black bears throughout the state, their larger cousins are nowhere near Maine. Even though black bears are less aggressive than grizzlies, it is important to keep your distance if you encounter one while out in the wild.
Maine black bears are most active between April and November, which is, of course, when most people are also the most active outdoors! As with the (kind of) bad joke above, if you are making noise, it is most likely that a black bear will do its best to stay away from you.
Black bears are hunted (in season) in Maine, which means they are probably smart enough to stay as far away from people as possible at all times! There have not been any fatal bear encounters in Maine in decades and decades.
The Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife has an entire page dedicated to bear safety in Maine that is worth reading.