These giant bears are very similar to Kodiak bears of Alaska, but tend to be darker. Head and body length is up to 275 cm (9 ft), and shoulder height is 127-135 cm (50-53 in). As with the Alaska brown bear, the Kamchatka brown bear grows large because of its abundant and protein-rich diet of spawning salmon and other fish in the coastal rivers, and from the comparatively mild climate that permits a shorter period of hibernation. It is a very large, dark bear with a massive skull. The forehead is broad and rather steeply elevated over the relatively short nose. The coat is long, dense and soft. The color varies from pale yellow to blackish-brown and dull black, but dark individuals predominate. The claws are dark brown, sometimes with light yellowish streaks at the tips, and are up to 1 cm (4 in) in length. The largest specimens are found in Kamchatka and on the Shantar islands, weighing from 200 – 1,000 kg.
During the salmon spawning season, great numbers of the bears gather along the Kamchatka Rivers. The animals are hunted heavily, chiefly for their fur and gallbladder, with an estimated 555 bears killed illegally each year.