Bergman’s Bear : Distinct variety or subspecies of brown Bear of East Asia.
Black. Short fur. Exceedingly large. Weight, 1,100–2,500 pounds. Large skull.
Size, 14.5 inches by 10 inches.
Southern Kamchatka Peninsula, Siberia.
This giant variety is likely extinct. The last known specimen, a pelt from Ust’-Kamchatsk, was examined by Swedish zoologist Sten Bergman in 1920.
Brown bears (Ursus arctos) vary considerably in appearance; this may just have been a regional variant of the Siberian brown bear (U. a. beringianus) rather than a subspecies.
- Sten Bergman, “Observations on the Kamchatkan Bear,” Journal of Mammalogy 17 (1936): 115–120;
- Terry Domico, Bears of the World (New York: Facts on File, 1988), pp. 50–51;
- Igor A. Revenko, “Status and Distribution of Brown Bears in Kamchatka, Russian Far East,” Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Bear Research and Management, Fairbanks, Alaska, 1995;
- Andrew D. Gable, “Bergman’s Bear,” December 19, 2000, http://www.cryptozoology.com/ cryptids/godbear.php.
Reports of a giant bear of Kamchatka, a “God Bear” in Russian folk traditions, have circulated for centuries. In recent years, indeed, some scientific evidence has emerged to validate reports of a cryptid known as Bergman’s Bear.
In 1920 the Swedish zoologist Sten Bergman examined the skin of a giant, black-furred variety of the Kamchatka bear. Bergman, who spent two years studying Kamchatkan wildlife, wrote that the pelt “far surpassed” the size of any bearskin he had ever seen. Most notably, the black bear’s pelt was shorthaired, unlike the long coat of the normal Kamchatka bear. Bergman’s 1936 paper also described a huge pawprint, 14.5 inches by 10 inches and a report of an equally outsized skull. David Day, in his book Vanished Species, lists this animal, Ursus arctos piscator, as “Extinct, ca. 1920.” No specimens have been collected since Bergman wrote in 1936. The animal may well be extinct.
On the other hand, it may not be. In Bears of the World (1988), Terry Damico observes that much of the Kamchatka Peninsula has long been closed off for military reasons. A former Soviet official who did have access to the area told Damico that the black giants were still reported. Domico also suggests the giants are a variant of the brown bear. Unfortunately, without a specimen this can be only conjecture.