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Endangered Species | Mammals
Mountain-Prairie Region
Graphic button showing the 8 state mountain prairie region

Grizzly Bear

 

Jump to a section: Bitterroot Ecosystem | Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem | Northern Cascades Ecosystem | Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem | Selkirk Ecosystem | Yellowstone Ecosystem | Open / close all

A close-up of an adult Grizzly Bear looking contemplative

Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)

Taxon: Mammal

Range: ID, MT, WA, WY

Status: Threatened

Grizzly bears in the lower-48 states are currently protected as a threatened species. It is illegal to harm, harass, or kill these bears, except in cases of self defense or the defense of others. (See this rule for more information, starting on page number 115.) Grizzly bear conservation is complex and only made possible through a variety of partnerships with the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, state wildlife agencies, Native American tribes, federal agencies, universities, and other organizations.

This 2018 map depicts the six grizzly bear recovery zones. Map by USFWS.

This 2018 map depicts the six grizzly bear recovery zones. Map by USFWS. View Full Screen.

There are six recovery ecosystems for grizzly bears in the lower-48 states today: the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem, the Selkirk Ecosystem, the North Cascades Ecosystem, and the Bitterroot Ecosystem. The North Cascades Ecosystem contains no confirmed grizzly bears in the United States, and an estimated six individuals reside in the adjacent British Columbia portion of the ecosystem. The Bitterroot Ecosystem currently has no known bears present but provides suitable bear habitat. These six ecosystems, each containing a recovery zone, were identified in the Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan and thought to support grizzly bears at the time of listing.

Learn more about the history of grizzly bears, their habitat requirements, and what they eat.

For information on living and recreating in grizzly bear country, visit the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee’s bear safety page.

Do you have additional questions about grizzly bears and their recovery? Contact us.




Latest News

May 24, 2019 The Grizzly Bear Recovery Program’s first annual report for the year 2018 is now available. Download as a PDF.

May 24, 2019 The Service filed a brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit appealing a Montana District Court’s September 24, 2018 ruling that vacated and remanded our rule to delist the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear population. The State of Wyoming filed a notice of appeal on December 6, 2018. The Service filed its original notice of appeal on December 21, 2018.

Currently, all grizzly bears in the lower-48 states are protected as threatened.




Recovering Grizzly Bears

A Grizzly Bear cub watches something out of frame while standing in autumn-colored bushes

A grizzly bear cub in the Northern Continental Divide ecosystem outside Glacier, Montana. Creative Commons licensed photo by Marshal Hedin.

Grizzly bears in the lower-48 states were originally listed in 1975 as a threatened species. There is one umbrella recovery plan for all grizzly bears in the lower-48 that was developed in 1982 and revised in 1993, and some ecosystems have supplements that add or update habitat-based and/or demographic recovery criteria for that particular population of bears.

Recovery Plan

Recovery plans are developed by wildlife experts and use the best available science at the time of publication. They outline reasonable actions that are believed to be required to recover and/or protect a species. Our goal is to recover each ecosystem population as they reach recovery targets. Populations remain protected until the recovery criteria specific to that ecosystem are met, at which point we may put forth a proposal to delist the population.

Ecosystem-Specific Recovery Materials




Status Assessments, Management Guidelines, and Regulations

Status Assessments

In 2011, the Service conducted a status review to evaluate whether or not the species’ status had changed since the time it was listed. The five-year review also includes information on grizzly bear biology and life history.

Interagency Management Guidelines

Regulations


Recent Federal Register documents (in order of latest to oldest):

  • Loading documents from the Federal Register

To view more documents associated with grizzly bear conservation, visit our page on ECOS.fws.gov.




The Grizzly Bear Recovery Team

An adult Grizzly Bear munches on forage

Photo: Terry Tollefsbol, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Hilary Cooley, Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator

Hilary leads the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s grizzly bear recovery program across the Mountain-Prairie and Pacific regions. Previously, Hilary worked for the Service served as the Polar Bear Program Lead in Alaska, and the Wolf Coordinator for the Pacific Northwest Region. Hilary also has experience working for Idaho Department of Fish and Game as a regional wolf biologist. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont, and a Masters and PhD from Washington State University in wildlife biology.

Jennifer Fortin-Noreus, Wildlife Biologist

Jennifer is a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Grizzly Bear Recovery Program. Previously, Jennifer worked for the USGS Alaska Science Center researching grizzly, black, and polar bears. Jennifer specializes in bear capture, handling, nutrition, and habitat use. She earned her Bachelor's of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Portland, then received her Master’s and PhD at Washington State University in Zoology.

Kate Smith, Program Administrator

Kate has been the program administrator for the Grizzly Bear Recovery Program for 15 years. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Sociology from the University of Vermont and her Masters from the University of Montana’s College of Business

Wayne Kasworm, Wildlife Biologist

Wayne oversees recovery and monitoring efforts for grizzly bears in the Cabinet-Yaak and Selkirk Mountains grizzly bear; serves as the science advisor to the Cabinet-Yaak / Selkirk subcommittee and the North Cascades subcommittee of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee; provides consultation support to federal agencies on grizzly bear issues; maintains collared samples of grizzly bears to estimate reproductive rates, sex and age specific survival, cause specific mortality rates, and population trends; assesses the genetic health of grizzly bear populations; and monitors the effects of resource management on grizzly bear recovery. Wayne received his Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Idaho and his Masters in Fish and Wildlife Management from Montana State University.

Tom Radandt, Wildlife Biologist

Tom radio collars grizzly bears in the Cabinet Yaak ecosystem, maintains a project database of captured black and grizzly bears, updates annual reports for the Cabinet-Yaak and Selkirk ecosystems, leads training for capture and handling of grizzly bears in all six recovery zones, and also serves as the grizzly bear recovery program’s safety officer. In addition his field research, Tom advises advanced degree candidates on research methods and protocols, conducts an annual handling workshop, and contributes to international research projects. Tom received his Bachelor’s of Science in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana in 1988 with a B.S. in wildlife biology.

Justin Teisberg, Wildlife Biologist

Justin leads a capture team radio-collaring grizzly bears in the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem, maintains the photo and genetic encounter database of Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak grizzly bears, helps coordinate interagency genetic sampling, updates reports for the Cabinet-Yaak and Selkirk ecosystems, and conducts research on grizzly bear physiology and nutritional ecology, population estimation, genetics, connectivity, and habitat use of Cabinet-Yaak and Selkirk grizzly bears. In addition to Grizzly Bear Program research, he advises graduate students’ research design, produces research on bear handling techniques, and contributes expertise and assistance to myriad collegial research projects. He received his Bachelor’s of Science in Natural Resources from the University of Illinois in 2006 and Ph.D. in Zoology from Washington State University in 2012.


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.


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. The Cabinet-Yaak grizzly bear population is estimated to be approximately 50 individuals.  Active research began in the Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone in 1983 when one bear was captured and radio collared. 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 (Archives)

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.


Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem - Archive

Annual Monitoring Reports
Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery 2016 Research and Monitoring Progress Report
Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery 2015 Research and Monitoring Progress Report
Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery 2014 Research and Monitoring Progress Report
Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery 2013 Research and Monitoring Progress Report
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


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

 


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:

May 24, 2018 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today the availability of the final Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan Supplement: Habitat-Based Recovery Criteria for the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (Recovery Plan Supplement). The final Recovery Plan Supplement provides objective, habitat-based criteria for the recovery of Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem grizzly bears, and builds upon the existing roadmap to grizzly bear recovery for the Service and our conservation partners.

Press Release
Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan Supplement: Habitat-Based Recovery Criteria for the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem
Recovery Zone Map

December 11, 2017 - DENVER –The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is soliciting input from the scientific community and the broader public on draft criteria set for the eventual recovery of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) grizzly bear. The NCDE region encompasses Glacier National Park and other parts of northwestern Montana.

Press Release
Peer Review Documents
Draft Supplement: Habitat-based Recovery Criteria for the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem

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.  

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

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.

 


Selkirk 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.  The current population estimate within the 2,200 square mile Selkirk Mountain recovery zone is approximately 80 individuals.  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 produces genetic isolation.

Monitoring and Progress Reports:

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

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


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:  

December 16, 2016 - Members of the the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee (YES) of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) signed and finalized the 2016 Conservation Strategy for Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bears on December 16, 2016. Finalization of the Conservation Strategy does not remove GYE grizzly bears from the list of threatened and endangered wildlife. Please see links below for more information:

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.

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.

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


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 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


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: June 13, 2019
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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