Watch an Epic Heavyweight Battle Between a Grizzly Bear and Towering Caribou

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Written by Ryan Fisher

Updated: November 10, 2023

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Yellowstone grizzly bears can be at their most dangerous when they first emerge from hibernation.
© Paul Knowles/

Grizzly bears are fearsome predators who are known for their power and courage. They are some of the largest bears in the world. They sure aren’t a species to be messed around with! Most bears are at the top of the food chain. This natural dynamic often dictates the natural cycles of prey species that cross their path. 

In contrast, caribou are humongous herbivores that have a naturally docile disposition. Don’t discredit them though, as they can fend for their own if the circumstances call for it. 

The video above shows a standoff between a fearsome grizzly bear and a humongous caribou. The clip begins by showing a grizzly adult and cub walking toward a caribou, likely planning an attack. As the adult grizzly steps closer, the caribou catches onto the situation and begins to pose a defense with its massive antlers. 

The rest of the video shows the bear trying to get around the antlers, while the caribou holds it back. Eventually, the fight is taken to a nearby stream, where the caribou continues to push the grizzly away. After the caribou became exhausted, the bear struck it in the neck, taking it down in the water. The clip ends by showing the bear biting at the caribou, which lies defeated in the water. 

Are Caribou and Reindeer the Same Animal? 

One big thing about caribou that surprisingly confuses people is their name. Depending on where you are located, you may have heard them referred to by multiple names, such as caribou or reindeer. At the end of the day, both names are correct, but there are slight usage differences depending on where people are discussing them. As compared to animals with standard, such as grizzly bears, this dichotomy can often confuse people.

Caribou is the North American name that refers to those that are found in the wild. If they are in captivity, however, reindeer is the term that is used. In contrast, most Europeans only know this animal as a reindeer, regardless of whether it is in the wild or captivity. 

Fascinatingly, the name caribou is derived from the French term for “snow shoveler,” which refers to their behavior of digging in the snow to find food. Reindeer, on the other hand, is derived from a Norsh word which means “horned animal.” 

Do Other Animals Hunt Bears? 

Grizzlies Battle in the Forest

Aside from a very short list of predators, the only other animal that fights grizzly bears is other grizzly bears!

©Erik Mandre/

Considering that they are known to be near (or at) the top of their food chain, there are a few animals that notably have the capacity to hunt grizzly bears. Commonly, medium-sized predators such as wolves, cougars, and bobcats all hunt for bear cubs. They tend to steer away from hunting adults, as they can be incredibly dangerous. 

Additionally, some pack animals, such as wolves, do have the possibility to hunt grizzly bears. This typically happens when there are large packs that can collectively hunt down a singular adult, which is a rare occurrence. 

Is This Normal Behavior?

While grizzly bears are not known for taking on fully grown caribou daily, they are opportunistic eaters and will take advantage of the situations in which they find themselves. Perhaps this bear determined that it had a strong chance to take on the large caribou with the help of its family. In this case, the bear made the right move because it was able to take down its victim in the stream.

Normally, grizzly bears will find easier targets to attack, such as fishing in a stream where the food comes to them with no risk to the bear. Grizzlies will also forage for their meals looking for berries and vegetation.

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About the Author

Ryan Fisher studies biology at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. His scientific interests are diverse, revolving around plants, animals, and fungi alike. In the future, he is planning on studying more botanical sciences, however he is extremely well-versed in select fields of zoology, such as entomology (the study of insects) and ornithology (the study of birds).

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