Grizzly bear

Are Grizzly Bears Endangered?



Grizzly bears are listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, and it’s the fault of humans.

Photo credit:Nomadasaurus

Grizzly bears are an iconic North American mammal, found in Alaska, parts of Canada, and portions of the northwest US. They are a subspecies of brown bear , distinguished by their color, a muscular hump on their back, and the length of their claws. These magnificent creatures define many national parks in the US, partially because of their status as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. How did grizzly bears become endangered? It all boils down to human activity. 

Habitat Loss 

Oil and gas development, recreational development, improper livestock grazingexcessive road expansion, and poorly designed timber harvest all contribute to the human encroachment on grizzly bear habitat. As humans take and use lands where grizzly bears live, the bears are forced to retreat to increasingly smaller untouched areas. The less area for grizzly bears to live, the fewer grizzly bears there are. 

Human Behavior 

As humans encroach on grizzly bear land, there are more and more bear-human interactions that end with the human killing the bear. Additionally, while grizzly bear poaching may be rare, hunting still has contributed to the decline of the grizzly bear population. 

Climate Change 

Global warming appears to be exacerbating human-caused grizzly bear mortalities. As temperatures stay warmer later into the year, grizzly bears are denning later and later, leading to more time during which humans and grizzly bears may interact. These interactions often end with the death of the bear out of self-defense. Additionally, climate change is changing grizzly bears’ habitats, making them less habitable due to rising temperatures, melting ice, and seasonal changes. 

How do we protect the grizzly bear from becoming endangered and even extinct? First, never approach wildlife, including bears. The less human-bear interactions there are, the fewer bear deaths at the hands of humans.  

Eating less meat and other animal products can also help grizzly bears, as livestock expansion is one of the biggest reasons for land development in the US. The meat industry, therefore, contributes heavily to climate change, which in turn affects grizzly bear habitats.

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