The Bear Facts: Old Ephriam

Audio:  mp3


Twelve miles up the Logan Canyon in the Bear River Range of the Wasatch Mountains is the grave of Old Ephriam, the last grizzly bear seen in Utah. He was trapped and shot in 1923 by Frank Clark, a sheepherder from Malad. Clark, an animal lover–except for bears–doggedly tracked Old Ephriam for 10 years during which the grizzly poached local sheep with impunity.

The name “grizzly” is based on the fact that bears in North America’s interior have hairs with white tips, resulting in a “grizzled” appearance. Many think the grizzly is a separate species, but in fact, the brown bears of North America, Northern Asia and Europe are all local variations of the same species–Ursus arctos. Brizzly, Kodiak, Manchurian, and Siberian brown bears may differ in size and color, but they all share a characteristic shoulder hump, a dished face and extra long claws so good for digging.

Old Ephriam was said to be a “giant grizzly”, weighing in at around 1,100 pounds. Such a weight would be unremarkable for a costal Alaskan brown bear, which can reach up to 1,500 pounds. But, because of their more limited food supply, interior brown bears, such as Old Ephriam, usually range between 225 and 670 pounds. Thus, it is very likely that the 1,100 pound figure might just be the product of good storytelling.

Today, you may visit utah’s most famous brown bear in two different places. Old Ephriam’s skull is on display in the Tanner Reading Room of Utah State University’s Merrill-Cazier library in Logan. But maybe the best way to pay your respects to this Utah celebrity is to hike to his old stomping grounds northeast of Logan. His grave is six miles up the right-hand fork of the Logan river. A large stone monument, built by the Boy Scouts in 1966 lies near the 1923 gravesite.

Credits:

Photo: Courtesy http://www.utahmountainbiking.com/trails/ephriam.htm

Text: Stokes Nature Center: Holly Strand, Jim Akers, Jeannie Huenemann

Sources & Additional Reading
IUCN Bear Specialist Group Assessment: http://www.iucnredlist.org/search/details/41688.pdf

Old Ephriam’s Grave, Utah.com http://www.utah.com/bike/trails/old_ephraims.htm

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Holly Strand

About Holly Strand

Holly is a Science Communications Specialist for the Quinney College of Natural Resources at Utah State University. A geographer by training, Holly received her master’s degree from the University of Colorado. In the early 90’s she led tours to nature reserves in the former Soviet republics. Then she worked 10 years for World Wildlife Fund, describing and mapping conservation priorities at overseas locations around the world. Over twenty years of professional work in great places with unique habitats and endemic species has given Holly an appreciation of what’s special within the Utah landscape. Holly and her family live in Providence, UT. Many of her stories originate as attempts to answer questions about nature posed by her curious and very observant daughter.