Grizzly bears still need our help

What's At Stake

Grizzly bears need our help. While the species once roamed from the Pacific to the plains, the grizzlies of the contiguous United States were reduced to less than 2% of their historic range and numbers by the 1930s. In 1975, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed bears in the lower-48 under the Endangered Species Act, or “ESA,” in an effort to save them from extinction. The ESA’s protections have been essential in allowing grizzlies to rebound in some areas, but the species’ numbers remain small — and bears are entirely missing, still, from some key ecosystems. Meanwhile, threats to grizzlies and their habitat persist throughout the West. But the Service is now considering the removal of crucial ESA protections from grizzly bears in parts of the Western U.S. Urge the Service to keep grizzlies protected throughout the lower-48 states until their recovery is assured.

For decades, grizzly bears faced persecution throughout their range in the Western United States. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, grizzlies were shot, poisoned, and trapped wherever they were found, reducing their population from roughly 50,000 bears to fewer than a thousand. After the ESA’s protections spared grizzlies from being hunted and killed, scientists and government agencies worked together to begin bringing the species back to health. The bears, however, still face significant threats to their survival. The climate crisis and continued habitat destruction, along with increased killing by people, are only making matters more challenging for grizzlies.

Grizzly bears play a vital role in the ecology and culture of the American West. They are the living embodiment of the wildness that remains in the West’s large, intact ecosystems. They are a sacred animal to many Indigenous people, including members of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe.

In addition, they are a keystone species, playing a crucial role in maintaining the health of their ecosystems by helping to regulate prey species and disperse seeds.

A premature delisting of grizzly bears would set us back from ensuring landscape and ecosystem resilience. Ongoing protections for grizzlies will become increasingly important for many other species too, as our biodiversity crisis worsens. Send a letter today to urge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to retain protections for all of the grizzly bears in the lower-48 states.

A pair of grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park (Todaysfotos / Shutterstock)
A pair of grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park. (Todaysfotos / Shutterstock)

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