Geographical Range Alaska, western Canada, northwestern United States
Habitat Forests, shrublands, alpine tundra
Scientific Name Ursus arctos horribilis
Conservation Status Common

Found in Alaska, western Canada and the northwestern United States, grizzly bears can weigh up to 1,400 pounds. They eat both plants and animals, and are very adept at fishing for salmon and trout. They rely on their sense of smell more than their hearing or sight, and often stand on their hind legs to sniff their surroundings. The grizzly is just one subspecies, or type, of brown bear.

The grizzly is just one subspecies, or type, of brown bear (Ursus arctos). While grizzlies are confined to northwestern North America, other types of brown bears are found in Europe, northern Asia and Japan. The species as a whole is found in fairly healthy numbers worldwide (200,000 or more). But their conservation status hides the fact that many brown bear populations are in danger of extinction. This is certainly true of grizzlies. Once found throughout the mountains of western North America, habitat loss and hunting have reduced their numbers to only about 1,500 in the lower 48 states. Of these, about 800 live in Montana. In 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed removing grizzly bears from protection within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) under the Endangered Species Act (called delisting).

Grizzly bears were designated, or listed, as threatened with extinction in 1975. Various agencies and stakeholder groups hold differing opinions about the status of the population and how it should be managed in the future. In the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the population of grizzyly bears has grown from 136 in 1975 to about 700 today. According to USFWS, efforts to reduce conflicts with people and preserve habitat for dispersal and, eventually, connectivity with other populations outside of the GYE will be essential for further restoration.

Did You Know?

A grizzly bear can sprint 30 to 35 miles an hour over short distances -- faster than many horses.