Grizzly bears are currently found in only 2 percent of their historic range within the U.S. In the early 1800s, an estimated 100,000 grizzlies lived in the western United States (excluding Alaska), but their numbers declined greatly as settlers moved west. Logging, mining, and road construction further reduced grizzly numbers by destroying their habitat. Today, there are about 1,000 of these bears in Montana, northern Idaho, northeastern Washington, and Wyoming. In Alaska, the grizzly bear population is estimated at 30,000.
The grizzly bears that live in the Bronx Zoo are part of a unique conservation intervention by the Wildlife Conservation Society. The bears had been encroaching on human habitat—a problem that leads to all sorts of conflicts in places throughout the world where animals and people share their turf. As a result of being nuisance bears,” they faced possible euthanization. Working together with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the zoo was able to provide a refuge for the bears.
WCS field conservationists based in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are monitoring energy development projects, predator-prey dynamics, and human-wildlife conflicts across the landscape to protect grizzly bears and other Western wildlife species. WCS Canada operates the Yellowstone-to-Yukon initiative. This field program seeks to repair habitat fragmentation and maintain an interconnected ecoregion that can support the grizzly bear and other wide-ranging animals. (Bronx Zoo)
On March 22, 2007, The US Federal Government stated that Grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park (Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem) no longer need Endangered Species Act protection. Several environmental organizations including the NRDC have since brought legal suit against the federal government to relist the grizzly bear.
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