THE GREAT YELLOWSTONE GRIZZLY PROJECT
Introduction: This is an academic study focusing on distribution, spatial relationships, habitat preference and natural life histories of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
The early 1970s showcased a new grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) management structure in Yellowstone National Park. Grizzly bears have been studied extensively within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem for the purpose of better understanding their social structure, reproduction capabilities, territorial range, habitat requirements, and other management related metrics.
The Yellowstone grizzly has been known and referred to as a “conservation reliant species,” meaning a species at risk from threats so persistent that it requires management to maintain stable population levels. (Schwartz et. al, 2014). In 1975, the Yellowstone grizzly was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Protection Act. During 2007, an attempt by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the grizzly bear from endangered species protections was unsuccessful; a federal judge in 2009 re-listed the species due to the issue concerning adequate management plans for the future. The same occurred during 2018; grizzlies were delisted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service only to months later be placed back under federal protections by a federal judge.
Given that grizzly bears have one of the lowest reproductive rates among terrestrial mammals, it is both critical and crucial to monitor the patterns and distribution of female grizzlies throughout Yellowstone National Park and the Northern Range. Distribution of bears in areas of visitor use, such as backcountry sites and trails will be evaluated, and suggestions will be made regarding Bear Management Units (BMU).
This study will examine spatial relationships of grizzlies, their surrounding habitat, home ranges and natural life histories. All data collected and compiled during the duration of this academic project will be shared amongst the appropriate agencies, including but not limited to: Yellowstone National Park Bear Management Office, US Geological Survey and Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks, Wyoming Game and Fish, Idaho Fish and Game, US Fish and Wildlife.