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Mountain-Prairie Region
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Grizzly Bear

 

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  • Two grizzly bears. Credit: USFWS.

    Two grizzly bears. Credit: USFWS.

  • Grizzly bears at the National Elk Refuge. Credit: USFWS / Ture Schultz, National Elk Refuge volunteer.

    Grizzly bears at the National Elk Refuge. Credit: USFWS / Ture Schultz, National Elk Refuge volunteer

Tribal Grizzly Information

Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)

When Lewis and Clark explored the West in the early 1800s an estimated 50,000 grizzly bears roamed between the Pacific Ocean and the Great Plains, across vast stretches of open and unpopulated land.  But when pioneers moved in, bears were persecuted and their numbers and range drastically declined.  As European settlement expanded over the next hundred years, towns and cities sprung up, and habitat for these large omnivores—along with their numbers—shrunk drastically.  Today, with the western United States inhabited by millions of Americans, only a few small corners of grizzly country remain, supporting about 1,400-1,700 wild grizzly bears.  Of the 37 separate grizzly populations present in 1922, 31 were extirpated by 1975.

In 1975, the Service listed the grizzly bear as a threatened species in the lower 48 states under the Endangered Species Act.  There are five areas where grizzlies remain today, Yellowstone ecosystem, Northern Continental Divide ecosystem, Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem, Selkirk ecosystem, and Northern Cascades ecosystem.  The grizzly bear recovery effort has met with some successes.  These successes have been largely due to a cooperative effort among several organizations called the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, which coordinates habitat management, research, education, and outreach.

 

Recent News:  

September 6, 2016 - The Service is reopening of the comment period on the proposed rule to delist the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear population, which initially published March 11, 2016.​ This decision comes after July’s release of the findings of an extensive scientific peer review of the delisting proposal. The extended comment period also allows the public to comment on the protective measures passed by Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming for post-delisting management of grizzly bears.​ Please see Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2016–0042​, ​and ​the ​supporting documents listed below:

 

March 3, 2016 - The Service is requesting public review and input on Proposed Revisions to the Demographic Recovery Criteria for the Grizzly Bear Population in the Greater Yellowstone Area Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2016–0042. These proposed revisions and supporting documents are listed below:

 

 

Recovery Plan and Supplements
NCDE Draft Conservation Strategy Notice of Availability for Public Comment
1993 Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan
Demographic Recovery Criteria
Habitat-based Criteria for the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Population
Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan Supplemental Information
North Cascades Ecosystem Recovery Plan Chapter (June 1997)
Bitterroot Ecosystem Recovery Plan Chapter (October 1996)


Bitterroot Ecosystem »

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Grizzly bears were listed as a threatened species in 1975 in the conterminous 48 States.  Currently grizzly bear distribution has been reduced to 5 areas in the western United States, including the Bitterroot in central Idaho and western Montana. Despite numerous studies of this area, there were no verifiable sightings of grizzly bears in the last 60 years until an adult male grizzly bear was mistakenly killed by a black bear hunter is September 2007 in the northern mountains of the Bitterroot. Recovery programs include activities such as improving management of grizzly bears on public lands, genetic research, population monitoring, public education, and implementing the recovery plans for each population.

In 2007, the Service initiated a 5-year review of grizzly bear (as listed in the lower 48 States excluding the Greater Yellowstone Area population) and 8 other species (72 FR 19549).

Tips for Living and Recreating in Grizzly Bear Country



Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem »

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Grizzly bears. Credit: USFWS.

Grizzly bears. Credit: USFWS.

Grizzly bears were listed as a threatened species in 1975 in the conterminous 48 States.  Currently grizzly bear distribution has been reduced to 5 areas in the western United States, including the Cabinet-Yaak in northern Idaho and northwest Montana.  Populations are estimated to be Active research began in both the Cabinet–Yaak and Selkirk recovery zones in 1983 when one bear was captured and radiocollared in each ecosystem. The Cabinet–Yaak ecosystem encompasses the Yaak River drainage and the Cabinet Mountains. The ecosystem is bisected by the Kootenai River, with the Cabinet Mountains to the south and the Yaak River area to the north. Approximately 90% of the study area is on public land administered by the Kootenai and Panhandle National Forests. The Cabinet Mountains Wilderness Area encompasses part of the study area at higher elevations of the Cabinet Mountains.

Annual Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery Research and Monitoring Reports (link to cabinet archive)

In 2007, the Service initiated a 5-year review of grizzly bear (as listed in the lower 48 States excluding the Greater Yellowstone Area population) and 8 other species (72 FR 19549).

In 2006, the Service issued a non-jeopardy biological opinion for the Revett Silver Company’s proposed Rock Creek Mine project in the Cabinet Mountains of Montana.  The non-jeopardy opinion concludes that the project incorporates a conservative approach to ensure adequate measures to conserve grizzly bears and bull trout.  The mitigation plan for the Rock Creek mine will be protective of threatened bull trout and should produce a positive net effect for the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem grizzly bear population.  

Grizzly bears. Credit: USFWS.

Map of the Cabinet-Yaak recovery area. Credit: USFWS.

Tips for Living and Recreating in Grizzly Bear Country


Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem - Archive

Annual Monitoring Reports
Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery 2012 Research and Monitoring Progress Report
Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery 2011 Research and Monitoring Progress Report
Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery 2010 Research and Monitoring Progress Report
Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery 2009 Research and Monitoring Progress Report
Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery 2008 Research and Monitoring Progress Report
Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery 2007 Research and Monitoring Progress Report
Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery 2006 Research and Monitoring Progress Report
Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery 2005 Research And Monitoring Progress Report
Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery 2004 Research And Monitoring Progress Report
Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery 2003 Research And Monitoring Progress Report
Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery 2002 Research And Monitoring Progress Report


Population Fragmentation and Inter-Ecosystem Movements of Grizzly Bears in Western Canada and the Northern United States
Success of Grizzly Bear Population Augmentation in Northwest Montana
A Comparative Analysis of Management Options for Grizzly Bear Conservation in the U.S.-Canada Transborder Area
Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions
Species assessment form
Listing priority number
Demographics and Population Trends of Grizzly Bears in the Cabinet-Yaak and Selkirk Ecosystems of British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, and Washington by Wayne Wakkinen and Wayne Kasworm
2003 Rock Creek Mine Biological Opinion


Northern Cascades Ecosystem »

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Grizzly bear. Credit: USFWS. Credit: USFWS.

Grizzly bear. Credit: USFWS.

The North Cascades is a large ecosystem in north-central Washington State and south-central British Columbia. The largest area of the ecosystem, about 9,800 square miles, lies in the United States, with an additional 3,800 square miles across the international border in British Columbia. The North Cascades ecosystem (NCE) is isolated from other ecosystems in the United States and Canada with grizzly bear populations.

While study of this very rugged and remote habitat indicates that this ecosystem is capable of supporting a self-sustaining population of grizzlies, the population is estimated to be fewer than 20 animals within the recovery zone in the United States.  The population in adjacent British Columbia portion of the ecosystem is estimated to be less than 25-30 grizzly bears.  Given the low number of grizzly bears, very slow reproductive rate and other recovery constraints, the NCE grizzly bear population is the most at-risk grizzly bear population in the United States today.

The main threat to grizzly bears in this recovery zone is a small population size and population fragmentation, with resulting demographic and genetic risks.

In 2013, The Fish and Wildlife Service reaffirmed (78 Fed. Reg. 70104 [Nov. 22, 2013]) that the North Cascades ecosystem grizzly bear warrants uplisting from Threatened to Endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

To date, efforts toward recovery in the NCE have focused on habitat protection through a strategy of no net loss of core habitat, information and education efforts regarding grizzly bears and their habitat, and enhanced sanitation for proper garbage and food storage in bear habitat. 

North Cascades Ecosystem. Credit: USFWS.

North Cascades Ecosystem. Credit: USFWS.

In accordance with the NCE Recovery Plan chapter (1997) and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife have jointly initiated (2014) an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) planning process to evaluate a range of alternatives for recovering the North Cascades grizzly bear population. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service are cooperating agencies in the process.


A recovery plan for the British Columbia ecosystem was completed in 2004.
To learn more about the EIS process and how to participate, or to view related documents, please visit: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/NCEG


FAQ on the North Cascades Ecosystem Grizzly Bear Restoration Plan and Environmental Impact Statement

 

Tips for Living and Recreating in Grizzly Bear Country


Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem »

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Grizzly bear. Credit: USFWS. Credit: USFWS.

Grizzly bear. Credit: USFWS.

Grizzly bears were listed as a threatened species in 1975 in the conterminous 48 States.  Currently grizzly bear distribution has been reduced to 5 areas in the western United States, including the Northern Continental Divide in northwestern Montana. The grizzly population in this area includes Glacier National Park and adjacent areas in Canada, and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.  This population has approximately 1,000 animals and continues to grow each year.

Recent News:

Federal Register: May 11, 2016 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Workshop To Review the Habitat-Based Recovery Criteria for the Grizzly Bear in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem  

 

May 2, 2013 – A draft conservation strategy for grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) is now available for public review and feedback.   This document describes the management and monitoring programs that would be in place if and when this population is delisted from the Endangered Species Act.  These measures are designed to maintain a recovered grizzly bear population in the NCDE.  This document does not change the legal status of this population of grizzly bears.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will not sign this conservation strategy or delist this population until agencies demonstrate their commitment to implementing it.  

 

Map of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. Credit: USFWS.

Map of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. Credit: USFWS.

The Draft NCDE Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy is available below.  Digital or hard copies may also be mailed upon request. 

Public comments may be submitted to the Grizzly Bear Recovery Office at the address below until August 1, 2013.

Attention: NCDE Conservation Strategy
USFWS
University Hall, Room 309
Missoula, MT 59812

On April 18, 2007, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced the initiation of a 5-year review of grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) (as listed in the lower 48 States excluding the Greater Yellowstone Area population) and 8 other species (72 FR 19549). We conducted reviews to ensure that our classification of each species as threatened or endangered on the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants is accurate. A 5-year review is an assessment of the best scientific and commercial data available at the time of the review. 

Funding was received in 2003 to begin the process to determine the total number of bears in this ecosystem with statistical confidence.  Additional population monitoring ecosystem wide is necessary to further recovery and any potential delisting. 

More than 17% of this ecosystem is private land and the majority of bear-human conflicts and bear deaths occur on these private lands.  We must continue to work with private landowners to minimize these conflicts.

Tips for Living and Recreating in Grizzly Bear Country

 


Selkirk Ecosystem »

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Grizzly bear. Credit: USFWS. Credit: USFWS.

Grizzly bear. Credit: USFWS.

On April 18, 2007, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced the initiation of a 5-year review of grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) (as listed in the lower 48 States excluding the Greater Yellowstone Area population) and 8 other species (72 FR 19549). We conducted reviews to ensure that our classification of each species as threatened or endangered on the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants is accurate. A 5-year review is an assessment of the best scientific and commercial data available at the time of the review.

Grizzly bears were listed as a threatened species in 1975 in the conterminous 48 States.  In 1999, the Fish and Wildlife Service first issued a warranted but precluded finding to uplist the Selkirk Mountains recovery zone population to endangered status.  As noted in the recently published Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions, this uplisting action continues to be precluded by higher priority listing actions (see the species assessment form for additional information on why reclassification is warranted but precluded).

Current grizzly bear distribution has been reduced to 5 areas in the western United States, including the Selkirk Mountains in northern Idaho and northeast Washington, and southeast British Columbia.  Populations are estimated to be 40-50 animals within the 2,200 square-mile Selkirk Mountains recovery zone.  Threats to the species in this recovery zone include incomplete habitat protection measures (motorized access management), overutilization by human-caused mortality, small population size, and population fragmentation that produce genetic isolation.  The Service assigned a listing priority number of 3 to this population due to continuing high levels of human caused mortality in British Columbia and new genetic information indicating the population is isolated and has declined in  genetic diversity relative to both adjacent populations.

Map of the Cabinet-Yaak recovery area. Credit: USFWS.

Map of the Cabinet-Yaak recovery area. Credit: USFWS.

Demographics and Population Trends of Grizzly Bears in the Cabinet-Yaak and Selkirk Ecosystems of British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, and Washington by Wayne Wakkinen and Wayne Kasworm

Tips for Living and Recreating in Grizzly Bear Country


Yellowstone Ecosystem »

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Jump to a section: Maps, management documents and additional information | Yellowstone archives


Grizzly bears. Credit: National Park Service.

Grizzly bears. Credit: National Park Service.

Recent News:  

March 3, 2016 - The Service is requesting public review and input on Proposed Revisions to the Demographic Recovery Criteria for the Grizzly Bear Population in the Greater Yellowstone Area Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2016–0042. These proposed revisions and supporting documents are listed below:

Printable Posters

 

May 21, 2013 - The Service is providing the public an additional 30 days to review and comment on the Draft Revised Supplement to the Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan in the Greater Yellowstone Area. Previously submitted comments do not have to be resubmitted because they have been incorporated into the public record and will be fully considered in our final Supplement.

March 21, 2013 - The Service is requesting public review and input on Proposed Revisions to the Demographic Recovery Criteria for the Grizzly Bear Population in the Greater Yellowstone Area (Federal Register 78 FR 17708). These proposed revisions and supporting documents are listed below:

Public comments may be submitted to the Grizzly Bear Recovery Office at the address below until June 20, 2013:

Attention: GYA demographic criteria
USFWS
University Hall, Room 309
Missoula, Montana 59812

Electronic comments may be sent directly to yellowstonegrizzlyplan@fws.gov

November 15, 2011 – The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion affirming in part and reversing in part the district court’s decision vacating the final rule delisting grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Area.  The Appellate court affirmed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s determination that existing regulatory mechanisms are adequate to protect grizzlies in the Yellowstone area while ruling that the Service had failed to adequately explain its conclusion that the loss of whitebark pine was not a threat to the population.  In compliance with this order, the Greater Yellowstone Area population of grizzly bears remains federally listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act while we consider more recent scientific data.

September 21, 2009 – The Federal District Court in Missoula issued an order vacating the delisting of the Greater Yellowstone Area grizzly population.  In compliance with this order, the Yellowstone grizzly population was once again a threatened population under the Endangered Species Act (75 FR 14496, March 26, 2010).  The District Court ruled that the Service was arbitrary and capricious in its evaluation of white bark pine and that the regulatory mechanisms identified in the final rule were not adequate because they were not legally enforceable.

March 22, 2007 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the Greater Yellowstone Area population of grizzly bears was recovered and should be removed from the Federal list of threatened and endangered species.

Maps

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Management Documents

Demographic Recovery Criteria Revised Methods to Estimate Population Size and Sustainable Mortality Limits

Federal Register Notices 

Habitat-based Recovery Criteria

  • Federal Register Notice of public workshop to obtain input for the development of habitat-based recovery criteria for the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis).  (62 FR 19777) (4/23/1997)
  • Federal Register Notice of document availability.  Availability of draft habitat-based criteria for the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) for review and comment (64 FR 38464)(7/16/1999)
  • Federal Register Notice of document availability.  Availability of Habitat-based and Demographic recovery criteria to be appended to the 1993 Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan (72 FR 11376) (3/13/2007)

Supplemental Information

  • Federal Register Notice of document availability.  Availability of draft supplemental information regarding the Recovery Plan for the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) for review and comment (62 FR 47677) (9/10/1997)
  • Federal Register Notice of document availability. Availability for supplemental information regarding the Recovery Plan for the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis).  (64 FR 38465)(7/16/1999)

Conservation Strategy

  • Federal Register Notice of document availability. Availability of draft Conservation Strategy for the grizzly bear in the Yellowstone ecosystem. (65 FR 11340) (3/2/2000)
  • Federal Register Notice of document availability.  Availability of Final Conservation Strategy for the grizzly bear in the Yellowstone Area. (72 FR 11376) (3/13/2007)

Revised Methods to Estimate Population Size and Sustainable Mortality

  • Federal Register Notice of document availability.  Availability of Draft Document Reassessing Methods to Estimate Population Size and Sustainable Mortality Limits for the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Population (70 FR 70632)
  • Federal Register Notice of document availability. Availability of Habitat-based and Demographic recovery criteria to be appended to the 1993 Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan.  (72 FR 11376) (03/13/2007)

 Rule Making

  • Federal Register Proposed Action.  Proposed Rule Designating the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Population of Grizzly Bears as a Distinct Population Segment; Removing the Yellowstone Distinct Population Segment of Grizzly Bears from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (70 FR 69854) (11/17/2005)
  • Notice of additional public hearing on Proposed Rule (71 FR 4097) (1/25/2006)
  • Notice of extension of comment period on Proposed Rule (71 FR 8251) (2/16/2006)
  • Final Rule Designating the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Population of Grizzly Bears as a Distinct Population Segment (DPS) and Removing the Yellowstone DPS of Grizzly Bears from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (72 FR 14866) (03/29/2007)
  • Reinstatement of Protections for the Grizzly Bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in Compliance With Court Order (75 FR 14496) (March 26, 2010)

Tips for Living and Recreating in Grizzly Bear Country


Yellowstone Ecosystem archives

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Human Fatality Investigation Reports

Stewart Board of Review report (released Nov. 2014)
Stewart Board of Review recommendations. (released Dec. 2014)
Wallace Board of Review Report (released Jan. 2012)
Matayoshi Investigation Team Report (released Sept. 2011) 
Soda Butte Campground Attacks Investigation Team Report (released August 2010)
Evert Investigations Team Report (released July 2010)
Evert Investigations Team Recommendations (released July 2010)

Crosby Board of Review Report

Crosby Board of Review Recommendations

Distinct Population Segment Actions

On March 22, 2007, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced that the Yellowstone Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of grizzly bears is a recovered population no longer meeting the ESA’s definition of threatened or endangered. This DPS has increased from estimates as low as 136 individuals when listed in 1975 to more than 500 animals as of 2006. This population has been increasing between 4 and 7 percent annually. The range of this population also has increased dramatically as evidenced by the 48 percent increase in occupied habitat since the 1970s.  Yellowstone grizzly bears continue to increase their range and distribution annually and grizzly bears in the Yellowstone area now occupy habitats they have been absent from for decades. Currently, roughly 84-90 percent of females with cubs occupy the Primary Conservation Area (PCA) and about 10 percent of females with cubs have expanded out beyond the PCA within the DPS boundaries. Grizzly bears now occupy 68 percent of suitable habitat within the DPS boundaries and may soon occupy the remainder of the suitable habitat.

Intensive monitoring of the population and its habitat will continue so that managers can continue to base management decisions on the best available scientific information.  The Yellowstone DPS represents a viable population which has sufficient numbers and distribution of reproductive individuals so as to provide a high likelihood that the species will continue to exist and be well distributed throughout its range for the foreseeable future. The State and Federal agencies are committed to implementing the extensive Conservation Strategy and State management plans.  They have formally incorporated the habitat and population standards described in the Conservation Strategy into the six affected National Forests' Land Management Plans and Yellowstone and Grand Teton's National Park Compendiums.  This commitment coupled with State wildlife agencies' approved grizzly bear management plans ensure that adequate regulatory mechanisms are in place and that the Yellowstone grizzly bear population will not become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.  Therefore, based on the best scientific and commercial information available, we are finalizing the delisting of the Yellowstone grizzly bear DPS.  More information on this action and other post-delisting management documents are available below.

Background Information

Summaries and Responses to Public Comments Received 
Habitat-based Recovery Criteria

Conservation Strategy

Proposed Rule

Revised Methods to Estimate Population Size and Sustainable Mortality

Supplemental Information


Tips for living in grizzly bear country and additional fact sheets »

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American People.
Last modified: September 09, 2016
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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