Home
Donate Sign up for e-network
CENTER for BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY Because life is good
ABOUT ACTION PROGRAMS SPECIES NEWSROOM PUBLICATIONS SUPPORT

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

SAVING THE GRIZZLY BEAR

Traditional Blackfeet Indians believed the grizzly bear to be our closest animal relative. The great bear — known as Old Grandfather, Old Honey Paws, or Crooked Tail — wasn’t feared or considered a threat; in fact, grizzlies were revered as healers and were the most esteemed of all animals. Boasting tremendous size and physical strength, this solitary bear had few enemies. Yet today, grizzlies occupy less than 2 percent of their original range. Human expansion westward has resulted in a mass killoff of the bears both for profit and from fear. And while the bears are mostly protected where they still exist in the lower 48 states, they’re still hunted for sport in Alaska and parts of Canada.

Despite the grizzly’s mythic status, federal predator control began in 1915, when grizzly numbers were already greatly diminished throughout the mountains of the West. It eliminated the bears from much of their remaining habitat. In 2001 one of the first acts of the Bush administration was to cancel a plan to reintroduce grizzles in Idaho. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service repeatedly removed Endangered Species Act protections from the bears in Yellowstone — first in 2007 and then in 2011. In December 2011 the Center filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act for all documents and interagency correspondence used in developing the study behind that delisting.

The Center advocates for an expansive and realistic recovery strategy for grizzly bears. We submitted comments pointing out the scientific inadequacy of the Yellowstone grizzly bear delisting proposal. After the agency removed protections for the 500 to 600 genetically isolated bears in Yellowstone, we filed suit with six other conservation organizations to restore these grizzlies to the endangered species list — a case that may take years of motions, rulings, and appeals. We’ve also requested a revision of the outdated grizzly bear recovery plan, and in  2010, we won a significant victory for Yellowstone grizzlies when eastern Idaho’s U.S. Sheep Experiment Station halted grazing on 7,500 acres of grizzly habitat. We’re still seeking expanded protections for grizzlies, designation of new recovery areas, and uplisting of certain populations to endangered status.

Get the latest on our work for biodiversity and learn how to help in our free weekly e-newsletter.

KEY DOCUMENTS
2013 factsheet: "Why Keep Yellowstone Grizzly Bears Listed?"
2007 rule delisting Yellowstone grizzly population
1975 federal Endangered Species Act listing

ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT PROFILE

ACTION TIMELINE

NATURAL HISTORY

MEDIA
Press releases
Media highlights
Search our newsroom for the grizzly bear

RELATED ISSUES
Carnivore Conservation
Grazing
The Endangered Species Act

DETRITUS
Download a grizzly bear ringtone for your cell phone


Contact: Michael Robinson

Photo © Robin Silver