Grizzly bear Ursus arctos horribilis
ESA status: threatened


The West’s iconic grizzly bears have been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1975. After being largely exterminated from their native habitats in the lower-48 states by the 1950s, grizzly populations are slowly on the path to recovery. Currently, approximately 700 grizzly bears exist in the Greater Yellowstone region and almost 960 bears roam the wild places in and around Glacier National Park. Still, many populations have yet to achieve recovery success, with fewer than 50 grizzlies residing in the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak ecosystems, fewer than 20 bruins in the North Cascades, and no grizzly bears existing in the premier habitat of the Selway-Bitterroot recovery zone. Grizzly bears are facing continuing threats from climate change, dwindling key food resources (such as whitebark pine seeds, cutthroat trout, and winter-killed ungulate carcasses), illegal poaching, lack of connectivity amongst populations, and the negative impacts of a crisscrossing system of roads fragmenting their habitat.

Despite scientific evidence showing grizzlies are clearly benefitting from Endangered Species Act protections, federal and state wildlife agencies are trying to remove grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone area from the federal list of endangered and threatened species. And the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho are already putting in place the frameworks to allow trophy hunting of these famous bears once management control returns to the states. WildEarth Guardians is keeping a close eye on grizzly recovery efforts and will ensure that these great bears continue to receive the protections they need to fully recover throughout their historic range. Read our comments (May 2016) on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to strip federal protections from Yellowstone’s grizzly bears to learn more about our efforts.

photo credit: Sam Parks