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Grizzly Bear

ESA Status: ThreatenedThe North American grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) is a large member of the brown bear species found in the continental United States in Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming. Recognized by its shoulder hump and grizzled fur, grizzly bears are mainly solitary creatures that hibernate during the winter, feed on a wide variety of food, and occupy diverse habitats including forests, meadows, and grasslands. According to the 2021 Species Status Assessment (SSA), around 50,000 bears were distributed throughout the western U.S., but population declines–due to settler expansion, bounty programs, and habitat loss and conversion–reduced grizzly bears to less than two percent of their former range.

By 1975, when the conterminous U.S. population of grizzly bear was listed as Threatened on the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the estimated population was around 700 to 800 individuals according to the 2021 SSA. Since the 1975 listing, the 2021 SSA reports a significant expansion of grizzly bear populations to now occupy approximately six percent of their historical range in the continental U.S. Of the five recognized ecosystems [Northern Continental Divide (NCDE), Greater Yellowstone (GYE), Cabinet-Yaak, Selkirk (CYE), Selkirk (SE), and North Cascades and Bitterroot (BE)], all contain known populations of grizzly bears aside from BE according to the 2021 SSA. Idaho is a part of the GYE, CYE, and SE ecosystems.

In 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) designated the GYE population of grizzly bear as a Distinct Population Segment (DPS) and delisted the DPS from the ESA. The 2017 Delisting concluded that, according to the best scientific and commercial data available, the GYE DPS population had recovered and stabilized and the threats reduced to a point where ESA protection was no longer warranted. More information on grizzly bears, and their conservation and management plans, can be found on the USFWS Grizzly Bear page and Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee site.


Idaho Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Plan

More Information:

Grizzly Bear fact sheet – U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Staff Contact:

Austin Terrell 

Grizzly Bear
Grizzly Bear
Photo (Public Domain) Terry Tollefsbol, National Conservation Training Center- Publications and Training Materials on Wikimedia Commons
Grizzly Bear Range Map
Grizzly Bear Range
Map Credit: Idaho Department of Fish and Game
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