Brown bear (Ursus arctos)

The brown bear (Ursus arctos) is the largest predator in Europe. It eats a mixed diet, uses carcasses for food and preys on large deer animals. When snow is on the ground, the bear is in hibernation. The brown bear is Finland's national animal. For ancient Finns the bear was a feared yet revered and respected animal.

The importance of the bear in the minds of ancient Finns is demonstrated by the fact that there are over 200 different names for the bear in our language. All modern Finns are familiar with names such as nalle, otso and mesikämmen, but fewer are aware that common words such as mettä, metsä, otava and mörkö are also ancient synonyms for bear.

Mother bear with two cubs in a swamp. Mother bear and two cubs. Photo Lassi Rautiainen
A bear cub in a pine tree, holding the trunk with one foreleg, the other on a branch. Bear puppy in a tree. Photo: Vastavalo.
Bear's scall in closeup from the side. Bear's scall. Photo Luontokeskus Petola

Description of the bear

The brown bear's fur is very thick, which gives its body a round impression. The bear's ears are small and round yet clearly distinguishable. The colour of the bear varies from black-brown to yellow-brown.

The bear growl

Bear tracks

The bear has the largest tracks of all of Finland's native species. The paw print of a bear's hindpaw slightly resembles the footprint of a human. In summer the bear might leave behind a destroyed anthill or tree stump. The bear's winter den is very difficult to find.