Grizzlies, © Todd Mintz

What’s Next for Grizzly Bears?

Snow is falling, the river is crusted in ice and bears are snuggled in their dens. We often think of bears as sleeping soundly through the winter but this is also the time of year when baby grizzly bears are born. As these newly born grizzlies wander into the world in April or May, what will the future hold for them? It might depend on their mother’s past.

After more than 10 years working on grizzly bear conservation issues I am not surprised that the largest threat to grizzly bears remains human caused deaths. Human development comes along with numerous enticing “attractants,” often smack in the middle of what once was a bear’s home environment – everything from garbage and birdseed, to fruit trees, chickens and livestock. When mother bears eat garbage for example, they are inadvertently teaching their cubs that these items are a food resource. Unfortunately, this behavior usually ends badly for both the mother and her cubs – and the bears are frequently killed or relocated to zoos.

Electric fencing, © Defenders of Wildlife

Electric fencing around attractants like beehives can keep everyone safe – including bears.

But the good news is that these deaths are often avoidable. Defenders works with communities, individuals and management agencies to keep attractants like chickens, livestock, fruit trees and garbage away from bears and prevent these unnecessary deaths. Our Electric Fencing Incentive Program, reimburses participants 50% of the cost of a bear-resistant electric fence, up to a maximum reimbursement of $500. Through this program, we also offer free technical assistance with design and occasionally hands-on help with fence installation. Last year alone, Defenders completed 44 electric fencing projects, mainly in Northwest Montana, and more than 100 electric fencing projects have been completed since 2010. These programs help reduce property damage for home owners, and also dramatically reduce killing of bears. Many of these sites had histories of grizzly bears killing chickens, or causing damage to property and fruit trees. Participants are extremely grateful to finally have a long term solution to a very concerning problem. In the words of one participant:

“There have been bears on the property but they have not gotten into the back yard to harass the chickens or partake of all the vegetables in the garden. The closest neighbor who did not have an electric fence was not so lucky.” – Ken Barber

While interactions with humans are the most frequent cause of death for bears on the ground, several other threats loom for the continued vitality of grizzly bears throughout the American West. In early 2013, Defenders fought diligently against some extreme anti-grizzly and anti-predator legislation, particularly in Montana. Luckily, many voices stood up for grizzlies and most of this extreme legislation was defeated. We also delved into proposed changes to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Southwestern Grizzly Bear State Management Plan asking for more protections for grizzly bears. And we commented on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed changes to its Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan Criteria for the Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Grizzly Bears, © Michael S. Quinton / National Geographic Stock

As you likely know, grizzly bears are currently listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to release delisting proposals for both the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear population and the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) population. The Yellowstone population has increased from around 150-200 when bears were put on the ESA in 1975 to around 700-740 bears today. The NCDE population is estimated at close to 1,000 bears today. Both populations have made incredible comebacks, but are they ready for delisting? This question is one we are carefully researching. Defenders respects the years of dedicated work to remove threats and recover these grizzly populations, and the extensive research that has gone into understanding these two populations. We look forward to reviewing anticipated new research regarding the Yellowstone grizzly bear population and its adaptability to changing food resources. Defenders will closely evaluate and comment upon any delisting proposal, and we’ll provide updates on these items as they move forward this spring and summer. The future of those newly born cubs depends on people’s willingness to coexist with this iconic species.

Erin Edge, Rockies & Plains Representative

53 Responses to “What’s Next for Grizzly Bears?”

  1. gregory vandivier

    excellent idea putting up fences to deter the bears and wolves. it is very ignorant to kill or injure these beautiful creatures of Gods creation. lets be human and help the animals help themself. humans are far more intelligent than them, we can help the wildlife co exist with us safely.

    Reply
  2. Dawn

    People, your not the only living animal out there!! We say we’re the smartest but yet we are the ones that take everything & give crap back!! We breed worse then rabbits because even rabbits understand there’s no food!! I can’t really say that cause I don’t truly know that!! We keep building & pretty soon there isn’t any land to look at!! Then we decide what is dangerous & what isn’t except we never put a stop to wasting Nature!! Every animal out there probably think we are so dangerous because we steal, cheat & lie & then believe we are the only creature that has the right to do whatever we want to!! Selfish, conceded & Narcissistic about everything & there is no end, well God will end this & if you ask me he should have ended this a very long time ago!! You have all you need so stop already!!!

    Reply
  3. Cindy

    I hope to God these magnificent creatures will be protected from poachers and hunters who are ruining their habitat and existence.

    Reply
  4. Neal Parisi

    Man’s desire to kill all living things led to the annihilation of the grizzly population in the State of California. It’s nice to see organizations working to restore the balance of nature in those areas that can still support the existence of wildlife that should be observed and not destroyed by mankind. That last word being an oxymoron.

    Reply
  5. Frank Wolf, PhD

    Enough is enough! Why not just stop developing into the grizzle’s habitat in the first place.
    Isn’t there enough people already? There’s something inherently “wrong” with willful ignorance here. There’s so scant little left of America’s original Western forest habitat, the grizzle’s and the wolf’s home, and everyone knows this. There’s so few of these animals left, too. Yet, we allow developers to constantly chip-away at it with new housing. We allow corporations to chip-away at it with Mc-this, BK-that, etc., ad nauseam. All such development puts profit into distant pockets at the peril, or worse, of local, once pristine ecosystems and their inhabitants.
    I’m both mad as h…, and sick to my soul with my fellow species’ lack of will power to control ourselves, our overwhelming inability to only look-at but rarely, if ever really “see” the beauty of wilderness with the grizzle, the wolf, the clean water, and clear skies and not instantly want to decimate it for creature comforts like back home.
    Nuff said 4now,
    Sequoiasaver

    Reply
  6. Emmanuel Fardoulis

    I totally agree with all of these previous comments .there are some people who have no regard for the natural world and what they are actually.doing to it and the way they are destroying it.Governments are the best example as are large mining,logging and oil industries .Nations that think that whaling,over fishing or trade in wild animal and plant for traditional Asian medicines or as status symbols and to show off their wealth such as China and Vietnam or families who can not stop producing children a ridiculous example is the US. Family ’19′ and counting , not only are they an over burden on the environment but they now star in their own TV series which I totally avoided as I do any thing with the Kardashians , the two
    latter contribute zero to any form of environmental protection or conservation

    Reply
  7. Jo Gilbert

    I totally agree with Neal and Frank Wolf above. It is embarrassing to be a human being these days – we are supposed to be Stewards of The Earth; yet instead, driven by greed, we keep taking and taking and taking from the land, from all creatures on this awesome planet Earth. It is “our job” as “Steward” to oversee and protect the special things indigenous to our planet. We need to put a halt on greedy disruptive new development, and instead restore or rebuild areas places already developed, but often left abandoned. Our precious wildlife like the Grizzly Bears, The Wolves, The Bison, Whales, Sharks, amphibians, reptiles, birds etc all need their space, their homes, their oceans: and mankind must step back and return those spaces to the animals and plants, so they can truly call them home. Restoration of wild places, wet lands, mangrove areas, beaver dams etc will return protection to the mainlands from flooding and extreme weather assaults on the land.
    Our America was blessed with amazing wild areas needing permanent protection, and many animals, including Grizzly Bears who need monitoring and protection until they reach sustainable numbers! I was amazed growing up in America by all the natural wilderness; places that took your breath away: and how majestic these places and animals dwelling within were. An America without these inspiring, unique treasures would be a boring land, void of any interest for humans to live or visit. It will turn into a wasteland, all in the name of greed! We need to ensure protection NOW while there are remaining places and living creatures to protect. Once gone: gone for good!

    Reply
  8. Jo Gilbert

    I totally agree with Neal and Frank Wolf above. It is embarrassing to be a human being these days – we are supposed to be Stewards of The Earth; yet instead, driven by greed, we keep taking and taking and taking from the land, from all creatures on this awesome planet Earth. It is “our job” as “Steward” to oversee and protect the special things indigenous to our planet. We need to put a halt on greedy disruptive new development, and instead restore or rebuild areas places already developed, but often left abandoned. Our precious wildlife like the Grizzly Bears, The Wolves, The Bison, Whales, Sharks, amphibians, reptiles, birds etc all need their space, their homes, their oceans: and mankind must step back and return those spaces to the animals and plants, so they can truly call them home. Restoration of wild places, wet lands, mangrove areas, beaver dams etc will return protection to the mainlands from flooding and extreme weather assaults on the land.
    Our America was blessed with amazing wild areas needing permanent protection, and many animals, including Grizzly Bears who need monitoring and protection until they reach sustainable numbers! I was amazed growing up in America by all the natural wilderness; places that took your breath away: and how majestic these places and animals dwelling within were. An America without these inspiring, unique treasures would be a boring land, void of any interest for humans to live or visit. It will turn into a wasteland, all in the name of greed! We need to ensure protection NOW while there are remaining places and living creatures to protect. Once gone: gone for good!

    Reply
  9. Nigel Miles BSc (Hons),PGCE, EdDMIBiol,MGEI, FRGS

    Congratulations on all your hard and conscientious work you are promoting both spiritually and materially with feeling and indisputable fact. Love and right IS on our side here in the PNW and in the much alienated landscapes of Cornwall. ..where rewilding and our reconnection with nature is beginning an eventual paradigm to our region in Atlantic Celtic Europe.
    As our most valuable marine riches of our brown algae maintain a “hapteron” connection with life and all our biodiversity across Gaia and our biosphere. ..remember this. RIGHT whatever its value WILL succeed. .those using so called might live in ignorance and fear and will be shown…Justice through compassion and FACTS…will prevail here and in ALL situations. Hold fast, pray and believe

    Reply
  10. barbara chapman

    The most evil creature on earth is mankind, mostly the ones with any power who will do anything to stay there including the complete destruction of our World, which we should be happy to share and enjoy with every other living creature and plant life..
    The world is not ours to destroy. Please if you care don’t just say its wrong let them know how strongly you care by signing petitions which is a simple but very effective tool

    Reply
  11. Tina Thompson

    The grizzly bears and wolves need our help to continue to exisit in the world today. We must stop the ignorance of society decimating the beautiful animals that co exist with us on this planet.
    Stand up and be the voice for those who have none. We need to defend the beauty of our wildlife before there is none left.

    Reply
  12. Diane Pease

    I agree with Dawn. We are supposed to be the smartest animal, but we are the ones that cause the most damage to this planet. These poor animals are quickly losing their habitat and food supply. Something needs to be done. They need to be protected. People need to start caring about other species rather than selfishly caring only for themselves!

    Reply
  13. Randi Tuck

    Bears and all creatures protect us from other harmful species and diseases they kill bad fish. Learn and live together. They aren’t here to harm us or anyone. Stop moving into their territories. Let them have space. They allow us to have ours.

    Reply
  14. Donna Friedman

    40 yrs ago while camping at Siskayeu Nat’l Forest, met up w/ 2 Grizzlies. They were so big & lovely. My heart raced, my dog barked. They were standing on hindlegs 30 ft from us. I prayed, “God, I don’t want to die like this.” I had a vision of a lamb on a tree stump. The bears must’ve seen it too. They ate, left, and I blacked out. Folks came to my site, asked if I was ok, as they knew the bears were there. These are gentle creatures, who just wish to live in their environment with enough to eat. We need to leave them alone.

    Reply
  15. DragonHawk1959

    Here’s an idea – prohibit people moving INTO the territories of protected species. No more encroachment means the problem will, at least, stop getting worse year by year.

    Reply
  16. Continually astonished at shortsighted humanity

    When you think about the area that grizzlies and wolves and many other animals covered before we killed them off and moved in 1000 bears is a rediculously small amount. They are thriving in their “reservation” but they need the freedom to be elsewhere as well. I would be thrilled to have grizzlies and wolves and wolverines etc. come back to my part of Colorado just like the moose have. Humans need to learn how to be cohabitants with wildlife. Manifest destiny still lives in our unconscious.

    Reply
  17. Janet Stafford

    I have read most of the comments here, and it does my heart good to know that most people with half the intelligence humans CLAIM to have, are very aware of the senselessness of the hunts, and kills that are taking place on every acre of our country, in the name of “conservation”. It’s OUR conservation, and only OURS that this is based on, and those with that same 1/2 a brain or more, also know that is a fool’s theory. For humans to survive, we need ecological balance of all living things to sustain our own survival and it makes me sick that we, as a species, STILL don’t get that! WE play God, think we ARE God, and will have to answer to God for that arrogance. WE NEED TO STOP KILLING EVERY THING AROUND US!

    Reply
  18. Marijane Bamberry

    Please save the animals!! They are beautiful creatures and it is much better to watch them than to kill them. The electric fence is a great idea to keep the animals out of trash.

    Reply
  19. Art Raya

    As my native American grandfather taught me, all life deserves respect. Do not kill for the joy of it. And all animals deserve to be part of the entire circle of life. We only have one earth and it must be shared and treated with dignity.

    Reply
  20. Joseph Wayne Tanner

    I would rather see Grizzly Bears not removed from the Endangered Species List

    Reply
  21. Joseph Wayne Tanner

    Just I like I don’t want 2 see Gray Wolves removed from The Endangered Species List

    Reply
  22. mike

    I agree with all that reply where I work is world of people that guns are the answer to everything and anything that is not human is the target

    Reply
  23. Mary J. Kareckas

    I think the idea of the fence will work, as long as nobody tries to kill them from a distance. I have NEVER heard of the killing of so many animals. What is wrong with the people in this world. God has put these animals on earth, so what gives you the right to extinguish them. You don’t have the right, so leave them alone.

    Reply
  24. Chris R. Monroe

    Regarding human encroachment into historical grizzly bear territory and habitat in the northwestern states, I propose a solution for these various county and state elected officials: start increasing the fees on these developers who want to sell and build within these habitats, and make the fees exorbitant enough that they’ll think twice before they start buying all that land. I know that the officials will think my proposal will cost them in the tax base, but sooner or later they’ll get government grants to pay for the land anyway. Stop being so short-sighted!

    Reply
  25. Paul J Malchiodi

    Can’t humans just let the animals of this planet live in peace, instead of just kill,kill,kill. Destroy their domain, their homes etc. For what, their own vanity or selfish profits or virtility. Let them get out there and get some Viagra.

    Reply
  26. Lorraine Makaruk

    The day when all our great wildlife is gone will be a sad day. And I FEAR it will be too soon. Then what???? What have these innocent creatures done to deserve death? When has humanity stopped caring – greed greed greed. that is all.
    We need these huge mansions in the middle of nowhere, where are the animals supposed to go???? we are building around the lakeshores, polluting streams, rivers, ponds etc. Where are they supposed to go???? co-exist with them, I fear too many people cant, too much computer and money making – forget wildlife.

    Reply
  27. Ed Loosli

    The current leaders in the Dept. of Interior and the U.S. Forest Service are all about protecting private cattle/sheep interests and doing what “hunters” want instead of protecting and conserving our natural resources, including grizzly bears. The Yellowstone Nat. Park and Northern Continental Divide ecosystem’s grizzly bears have NOT recovered and will continue to be “threatened” for many years to come. If Defenders of Wildlife abandons the grizzly bear and agrees to “de-list” the grizzly bear, it will end my support of this former champion for full protection for the grizzly bear.

    Reply
  28. James R Monroe

    I am hoping for a day when both wolves and the state of California’s emblem the grizzly will once again roam in the wilds of our great state.

    Reply
  29. Romola

    Humans have to realise that we need non human animals to survive, we have to stop being selfish and taking their habitats, we are destroying our planet because of our greed.

    Reply
  30. Don Swanz

    A lot of the problems with bears would be eliminated if the general public would cease treating them as pets – do not feed them and/or leave your trash readily available to them – and realize that they are wild and will attach and/or kill you quicker than a New York minute. Don and WE CAN! :-))

    Reply
  31. Jane Morrow

    I’m not an American (from New Zealand) but have a real ove of your wildlife gained mostly though my contact with Defenders. I agree with all your comments above. Mankind needs to stop destroying the most precious creatures and places on the planet and stop breeding like rats. Human greed, stupidity and over-population is making me lose my remaining humanity. Animals are better global citizens than the human race will ever be.

    Reply
  32. fran young

    As soon as the grizzly bear is removed from the endangered list, the hunters will make them extinct. We must protect the endangered wildlife while they are still here, not when they are gone. Please protect this magnificent creature before it is too late.

    Reply
  33. Steve Foster

    Delisting the grizzly will have the same intention as delisting the wolf, by the powers that be, which is not merely to turn over control to states because the species is starting to recover, but to greatly reduce their numbers once again or even eradicate them again. Delisting will be based on political pressure, not science, in spite of alternative control measures like electric fences even subsidized (or perhaps totally paid for) by Defenders of Wildlife.

    Reply
  34. patrick percy

    “Bless the beast and the children, for in this life they have no voice.They have NO VOICE”.

    Reply
  35. s.stephens

    I love these comments. Sometimes I feel like my husband and I are all alone in this world, no one ever caring about the beauty that is in nature and all around us if we only open our eyes. Now I know there are at least a few of us out there. Hang in there!

    Reply
  36. enubus

    Humans were given dominion over the beasts of field, but not to slaughter them, abuse them, hunt them, torture them and starve them but to support them, care for them and protect them. We Humans will rue the day, when they are all gone on a dead planet because we were too stupid to realize their worth and necessity in the chain of life.

    Reply
  37. anita rolih

    No living creature has the right or authority to decide another God made living creature has the right to live or die .Only our Lord has that Right.We as the top of the species{and that is not definitely the case in my mind } are to help support and help ALL LIVING THINGS ,from the ant to the elephant .We are not to profit from or defile the environment that these of God’s creatures live in .We are just passing through and our goal to leave the earth a better place and safer then we found it .

    Reply
  38. Annette Hummell

    Animals are still awe inspiring. We need to have them around for years and generations to come. They are like children and need to be watched over. God bless those who cannot protect themselves.

    Reply
  39. Susie Fontaine

    The welfare of all animals depends upon us humans. The people that are destroying our animals is simply because of their love of money. Pityiful.

    Reply
  40. Cheryl

    I totally agree with all of you- it’s not nearly enough that humans ARE THE WORST ANIMAL. THEY ARE THE GREEDIEST OF ALL, THEY SEEM TO THINK THEY NEVER HAVE ENOUGH TO ANYTHING AND ALWAYS HAVE TO HAVE MORE AND MORE A LONG WITH THE SO CALLED BEST OF EVERYTHING! WHAT A JOKE THEY ARE SOMPLY NOT HAPPY WITH A ROOF OVER THEIR HEAD AND FOOD IN THEIR TUMMIES. MAYBE THEY DON[‘T BELONG ON OUR BELOVED EARTH!!

    Reply
  41. Cynthia Campbell

    It is a shame how humans can be so greedy. No regard for the natural resources and beautiful wildlife that God has given us. We are supposed to be the guardian and protector of our natural resources and beautiful wildlife like bears and wolves. We forget that God put us all in this beautiful planet called “Earth” to co-exist with nature and wildlife. But what have we done so far….we have been failing. We have to give these beautiful wildlife a voice so they can have their habitat and life back. They have been suffering for a long long time because of human mistakes, ignorance and greed. Sign petitions and spread the word to your friends and media network.

    Reply
  42. Grazyna Dienwebel

    “These are gentle creatures, who just wish to live in their environment with enough to eat. We need to leave them alone.” – I strongly agree – PLEASE LET THEM LIVE!!! Please save our nature, for our kids, for future generation, – IF NOT FOR SINGLE ANIMAL LIFE

    Reply
  43. Kat Unleashed

    Man is the MOST destructive creature on the planet. If humans would stop cutting down wildlife’s NATURAL habitat, these creatures would stay in the woods where GOD intended and there wouldn’t be a reason for them to venture into populated neighborhoods. Earth is NOT the property of man and turning the planet into a slaughterhouse annihilating species, for GREED and PROFIT, PROVES that man isn’t the most intelligent species!

    Reply
  44. Teresa

    We have to keep protecting Grizzly and other wild life.
    Animal’s can not with stand the destructive hand’s of man, they need constant protection against hunter’s and poacher’s. Animal’s are worth protecting in every way.
    Don’t turn your back on them. They need us.

    Reply

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