When Lewis and Clark passed through Idaho in the early 1800s, an estimated 50,000 grizzly bears roamed the country between the Pacific Ocean and the Great Plains.
Since then grizzlies have been 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, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the big bruins as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act.
In March 2007, grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem were removed from the endangered species list. Since delisting, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission has assumed authority for managing grizzly bears within the Idaho portion of the Yellowstone ecosystem. They are under federal protection elsewhere in the state.
To learn more about grizzly bears in Idaho, go to the new grizzly bear page on the Idaho Fish and Game Website: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/grizzlies/.
Today, only a few small corners of grizzly country remain, supporting about 1,200 to 1,400 wild grizzly bears. Six grizzly bear populations are recognized in portions of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington. Three of these populations contain fewer than 35 individuals.
The Yellowstone population, inhabiting parts of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, is estimated to comprise more than 600 individuals.
Grizzly bears are protected by state and federal law and cannot be killed except under certain circumstances outlined in the law.