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Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) | ESA status: threatened

Grizzly bear

The grizzly bear, a Western icon, is slowly recovering after near-extermination. Yet grizzlies still face many hurdles, including opposition from the states where they are struggling to make a comeback.

Grizzly bear habitat

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 full recovery, 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 in the premium habitat of the Selway-Bitterroot recovery zone.

What are the threats to the grizzly bear?

Grizzly bears face 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 among populations, and the negative impacts of a crisscrossing system of roads fragmenting their habitat.

Grizzly bears have been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1975. Despite scientific evidence showing grizzlies are clearly benefitting from Endangered Species Act protections, federal and state wildlife agencies have removed 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.

What WildEarth Guardians is doing to preserve the grizzly bear

We sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when it was announced Yellowstone’s grizzlies would be stripped of their Endangered Species Act protections. We are 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.