Grizzly Bears used to populate many western states, but hunting and habitat destruction has greatly reduced their population. Now there are only a few areas known to be home to grizzlies. There are about 55,000 grizzly bears in the U.S. making homes in only 5 states.
The majority of the U.S.’s grizzly population can be found in Alaska. There are about 30,000 grizzly bears within the states. This high and stable population is helped by the creation of conservation areas and a low number of bear-hunting permits.
Idaho’s neighbor is home to 1,800 to 2,000 grizzly bears. The state focuses on grizzly bear protection. They also work to recover populations and help them to thrive. The grizzly bear has even been Montana’s state animal since 1983!
Wyoming is also home to Yellowstone National Park, where conservation efforts have helped the grizzly bear population to grow. Since 1975, the population of grizzlies in the Yellowstone conservation area has grown from 136 to 730. Six hundred of those bears are located in Wyoming.
Washington has approximately 500 grizzly bears. State laws protect this population and the state has five conservation areas set up to encourage breeding and population growth.
While Idaho used to be home to many more grizzly bears, there are now around 80 to 100 in the state. Yellowstone National Park, partially located in the state, has a special grizzly conservation area set up to help protect this population. They are also listed as a threatened species which makes hunting them illegal.
Even though grizzly bears are not considered to be endangered, they are considered to be threatened. That means that they are given a special protected status by the U.S. government. In addition, there are a few recovery areas that are focused on rebuilding the grizzly bear population, which has dwindled during the past few hundred years.
Some of the locations where grizzly bears have a recovery ecosystem set up include Yellowstone National Park, the Northern Continental Divide, the Cabinet Yaak Ecosystem, the Bitterroot, and the North Cascades. These are locations where grizzly bears are protected, but grizzly bears are not given the same level of protection in Alaska, as the population is thriving there.
If you spot grizzly bears in the wild, you need to remain very still. You might want to wave your arms slowly to let the bear know that you are human. It might stand on its hind legs to get a better look at you, but grizzly bears are not naturally aggressive. Try not to make direct eye contact with the bear. Then, back away from the bear slowly. Do not try to run away, as the bear might decide that you are prey and try to chase you down. You should also reach out to the local authorities to let them know that you have seen a bear nearby.