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College of Forestry and Conservation

Grizzly Bear Ecosystems

Yellowstone
The Yellowstone Ecosystem encompasses parts of Montana, Wyoming, and eastern Idaho, covering 9,200 square miles. This population of bears is doing well, expanding their numbers and range. These bears are re-colonizing areas where they have not been in the last 75-100 years. It is estimated that there are now 550-600 grizzly bears living in this ecosystem.

Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem
The NCDE is approximately 9,600 square miles and includes Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Great Bear Wilderness, Scapegoat Wilderness, Mission Mountains and surrounding national forest lands. A non-invasive genetic sampling project, lead by the USGS, was completed in 2004. This project produced a scientifically sound population estimate of 765 bears for this area.

North Cascades
There are probably less than fifteen bears in this recovery zone. This recovery zone is almost 10,000 square miles. Management is focused on outreach and education and sanitation issues. The 1997 supplemental chapter for the north Cascades calls for an Environmental Impact Statement to involve the public in an evaluation and selection of options to recover this population. This EIS has not been funded to date. This population is currently proposed to be uplisted from its current status as 'Threatened' to 'Endangered', but due to current work loads and staffing, the listing of other species is a priority.

Selkirk
This recovery zone is 2,000 square miles in north Idaho, northeast Washington and a portion of southern British Columbia. The current population estimate for the Selkirks is approximately 75 bears. Major issues facing this population include human induced mortality, land management practices and connectivity with adjacent populations. This population is currently proposed to be uplisted from its current 'Threatened' status to 'Endangered', but due to current work loads and staffing, the listing of other species is a priority.

Cabinet-Yaak
The Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem is in northwest Montana and a small portion of northeastern Idaho and encompasses 2,600 square miles There are an estimated thirty to forty bears in this ecosystem that are separated into two population fragments. Natural mortality and human caused mortality have taken their toll on this population in recent years. This population is currently proposed to be uplisted to 'Endangered', but due to current work loads and staffing, the listing of other species is a priority.

Bitterroot
The Bitterroot Ecosystem is the largest contiguous block of designated wilderness area in the Rocky Mountains at over 5,600 square miles. The Bitterroot Ecosystem offers excellent potential to support a healthy population of grizzly bears and to boost long-term survival and recovery prospects for bears in other Recovery Zones. In 2000, the Fish and Wildlife Service published a Record of Decision to establish a nonessential experimental population of grizzly bears in the Bitterroot Ecosystem. This population would consist of twenty-five grizzly bears being introduced into the Bitterroot Ecosystem over a period of five years. In June 2001, these recovery planning efforts were placed on hold and this recovery action has been suspended since then.