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Kodiak bears (also known as Alaskan brown bears) are a subspecies of brown bear and are only found on the Kodiak Archipelago in Alaska. The biggest brown bears come from Kodiak Island itself. While bears are found on many islands off Alaska and the Alaskan peninsula, 17 of the top 25 Alaskan brown bears were taken from Kodiak. The world record was bagged by Roy Lindsley in 1952. Its score is 30 12/16. It’s the largest-scoring bear of any speices known. The skull is now owned by the Los Angeles County Museum. The largest specimens of brown bears commonly weigh more than half a ton, which is a predator that will make the knees of the most seasoned hunter shake.
Roy Lindsley with the world record Kodiak bear taken on Kodiak Island, Alaska.
Grizzly bears are another subspecies of brown bear. But while Alaskan brown bears live on the coast, grizzlies live inland and over time have adapted to the the unique environments they live in. These adaptations have led to smaller bears. North American brown bears that aren’t shot in coastal areas are considered grizzlies, and their recorded sizes show it. Seventeen of the top 25 grizzlies were taken in, you guessed it, Alaska. Seven were taken in British Columbia and the remaining one was taken in the Yukon.
Larry Fitzgerald poses with the largest grizzly bear taken by a hunter. It was bagged in 2013 near the Totatlanika River, Alaska.
Black bear hunting is popular across the United States and Canada. About half of US states offer black bear hunting, and with an expanding population nationwide, five states have added bear hunting seasons in the last decade. There are more to come. Alaska ranks high in producing giant black bears as well, led by the islands in the Pacific Ocean just off the state’s southeastern coast, but the most consistent producer of giant black bears is not what you would think. Twelve of the top 25 black bears in the record book came from Pennsylvania. Wisconsin comes in second. As stated earlier, a big bear is the result of two main aspects: excellent habitat and age. Both states have a mix of farm crops and big woods that create ideal bear habitat.
The melon-headed bear in this picture is the largest black bear taken by a hunter. Robert Christian shot it in Monroe County, Pennsylvania in 2011.
The polar bear is the largest land carnivore in the world. A lot of bears have a nasty reputation, but polar bears back it up. More people have been killed and eaten by polar bears than by all other bears combined. The opportunity to hunt a huge polar bear has been turned upside down in the past couple decades. That’s not to say that you can’t shoot a huge polar bear because all adult polar bears are huge by bear standards, but the areas that produce the biggest ones are off-limits except to indigenous Alaskans.
The world record polar bear was the result of a hunt out of Kotzebue, Alaska in 1963. The bear, shot by Shelby Longoria, weighed more than half a ton and had a skull measurement 1/16 of a inch under 30 inches.
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