Grizzly bears were once numerous, ranging across North America from California to the Great Plains, and from Mexico all the way up into Alaska.
As with many species, westward expansion, human transformation of the landscape, and fear led to near-eradication of grizzly bears in the continental United States. When the grizzly bear was listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1975, the grizzly bear population in the lower 48 states was down to less than 1000 bears. Grizzly bears still occupy less than 2% of their former range in the lower 48, in 5 of 6 grizzly bear recovery areas.
Recognizing that human-bear conflicts were a leading cause of human-related grizzly bear deaths, Defenders initiated our grizzly bear conflict mitigation, or coexistence, program in the late 1990s. Defenders works directly with local residents and communities, non-profit organizations, and government agencies on a wide variety of conflict prevention projects, largely on private lands.
A primary example is our popular grizzly bear electric fencing incentive program. We see tremendous conservation value in providing financial support and technical expertise to build electric fence systems that effectively deter grizzly bears and other carnivores from accessing anthropogenic attractants.
To keep bears from getting food-conditioned at campsites and dumps, often resulting in euthanasia, Defenders cost shares on projects that secure food and garbage on our public lands and in communities. This includes purchasing food storage lockers for the U.S. Forest Service to install at campgrounds, assisting with costs associated with fencing a waste transfer site and purchasing bear resistant garbage cans or neighborhoods.
This work keeps bears and other wildlife out of trouble. We also host bear awareness education events and trainings for community groups and school kids living in the region to share awareness tips and practice using bear spray.
Human-caused mortalities and habitat loss remain primary threats to grizzly bear populations in the lower 48 states.
Endangered Species Act
IUCN Red List
If you live in bear habitat, practice proven coexistence techniques. Always carry bear spray when recreating or working in bear country and know how to use it. Let your Senators, Representatives and Governors know that you support wildlife conservation and habitat protections and the Endangered Species Act.
Though still common in much of Alaska, British Columbia and Alberta, grizzly bears have been reduced in the lower 48 states to five isolated populations in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington.
North Cascades Ecosystem: <10 bears
Selkirk Ecosystem: ~80 bears
Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem: ~50 bears
Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem: ~1,000 bears
Yellowstone Ecosystem: ~700 bears
Grizzly bears are normally solitary animals. However, they may be seen feeding together where food is abundant, such as at salmon streams and whitebark pine sites. Grizzly bears need to eat a lot in the summer and fall to build up sufficient fat reserves to survive the winter denning period.
Mother bears rear cubs for two to three years. Males do not help raise the cubs. In fact, males can be a danger to the cubs, so females often avoid male grizzly bears while rearing their cubs.
Mating Season: Early May through mid-July
Gestation: Anywhere from 180-270 days, including delayed implantation.
Litter Size: 1-4 cubs, but average is 2-3
Grizzly bears are omnivores, and their diet can vary widely. They may eat seeds, berries, roots, grasses, fungi, deer, elk, fish, dead animals and insects.