Grizzly Bears

New / Noteworthy

Grizzly bear

Management Background

Grizzly bears were eliminated from 98 percent of their historic range, which stretched from the Arctic to central Mexico and from California to Minnesota, by the 1920s and 1930s in the lower 48 states.

In 1975, they were listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has primary management responsibility. After delisting, the states would assume the primary management role within their respective state boundaries.

Grizzly bears in the Yellowstone Ecosystem were removed from the endangered species list in 2007.

Legal challenges in 2009 resulted in the bears being returned to the Endangered Species List. An appeal was filed in 2010 by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service and the Department of Justice. A decision is expected sometime during the winter of 2011.

The bears have remained protected under the Endangered Species Act elsewhere in the state.

Idaho still classifies grizzly bears as a threatened species, making it illegal to take or possess grizzly bears except under certain circumstances, including scientific research, propagation, to stop damage to property and water rights and other specific circumstances outlined in state law. There are no hunting seasons for grizzly bears in Idaho.

Grizzly Bears in the Wild

Long ago, grizzly bears lived in every part of Idaho. Now they are only found in the northern part of Idaho and in eastern Idaho close to Yellowstone National Park. The best grizzly habitat is a forest that has meadows and grasslands mixed within it.

Grizzly bears are known for having long claws and a hump between their shoulders. The hump is made of  muscle.

Two foods that grizzlies love are whitebark pine nuts and army cutworm moths. They can eat as many as 40,000 moths a day and can gain up to 30 pounds each week eating these high fat foods.

To find food, grizzly bears have wonderful senses. Bears see about as well as people do, and they see in color. Just like dogs, bears can hear high pitched sounds. Their hearing is good, but the most important sense for a bear is its sense of smell. A grizzly bear's nose is about 1,000 times more developed than a human’s nose. Bears remember where food and places are by how they smell.

The color of a grizzly varies from blond to black. They have a large hump between their shoulders. Adult front claws are 2-4 inches long, light colored and slightly curved. They can weigh between 200 to 600 pounds and are three and a half to four feet high at the shoulder and six to seven feet when standing on their hind feet.