Brown bears are larger than black bears and have a more prominent shoulder hump, less prominent ears, and longer, straighter claws. Both the shoulder hump and the long claws are adaptations related to feeding. The long claws are useful in digging for roots or excavating burrows of small mammals. The musculature and bone structure of the hump are adaptations for digging and for sprinting to capture moose or caribou for food. Despite their bulk, bears are surprisingly fast and agile.
A bear’s weight varies with the season. Bears weigh least in the spring or early summer. They gain weight rapidly during late summer and fall and are waddling fat just prior to denning. At this time most mature males weigh between 500 and 900 lbs (180 – 410 kg) with extremely large individuals weighing as much as 1,400 lbs (640 kg). Females weigh half to three-quarters as much. Bear hides are prized by hunters but the meat of a brown bear is generally considered unpalatable and hunters rarely eat it.
Brown bears eat a variety of foods including berries, grasses, sedges, horsetails, cow parsnips, fish, ground squirrels, and roots of many kinds of plants. Brown bears are capable predators of newborn moose and caribou, and can also kill and eat healthy adults of these species. Bears also consume garbage in human dumps, as well as all types of carrion.