Yellowstone Grizzly Bears Are on the Rebound and Outbound

July 7, 2014

As the Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear population has increased, separation between grizzly bear island populations is shrinking and closing the population gap is within reach.

At the age of 5 in Yellowstone National Park, I saw my first grizzly. With my family, I watched a mother and two cubs walk along the shore of Yellowstone Lake. The sighting was a highlight of our trip to America's oldest national park. It also helped launch me on a career path.

Today, working as a wildlife conservation scientist in the Northern Rockies, I see grizzly bears regularly. In the spring, I watch cubs play while their mother eats new grass and digs for roots; in early summer, I see big males vie for females; and in the fall I observe bears young and old scrambling to put on the last pounds they need to get them through their winter hibernation. Every sighting is gratifying, especially since the grizzly bear has been listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act for most of my life.

In 1975, when grizzly bears were first listed as threatened, their numbers in the contiguous U.S. had dwindled from more than 50,000 to fewer than 1,000 because of habitat loss and over-hunting. The bears that remained were isolated in national parks and remote areas that totaled less than 2% of their historical range.

Read the full op-ed by Jeff Burrell >>
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