U.S. government proposes removing Yellowstone grizzlies from endangered species list

Friday, November 18, 2005

Grizzly Bears

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that "The greater Yellowstone area population of grizzly bears ... is now recovered". They propose removing this population from the list of threatened and endangered species.

More than 600 grizzly bears now live in the greater Yellowstone area. This area, which includes Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and several national forests covers 18 million acres. Grizzlies occupy 68% of the suitable habitat within the area. They have been spotted over 60 miles from what was once thought to be the outer limits of their range. The bears' range and distribution has been increasing annually and is now 48% larger than when they were listed.

When Lewis and Clark crossed North America in 1804 there were more than 50,000 grizzlies in the west. By the 1970s there were less than 1,000 and they only covered 2% of their historic range. In 1975, when the Grizzly Bear was listed as threatened, biologists estimated the Yellowstone ecosystem had between 220 and 320 bears. Since then, various government agencies and private organizations worked on a conservation plan that involved education, conflict reduction, and monitoring programs.

Four other populations of Grizzly Bear in the lower 48 states will remain on the list.