The Last Remnants of Grizzly Bears

With all the new and advanced technology that is accessible today, who has time to enjoy or care about the great outdoors? Unfortunately, much of the wilderness and the animals within it are gradually fading away. There are many animals that have already been extinct and many more will soon be put on the list of extinction. In the second issue of Target Earth, Tim Stevens found in 1975, the grizzly bear was listed as a threatened species, under the Endangered Species Act. Stevens also stated, Today, the grizzly bear hangs on in the last remnants of wild places left in the U. S. –places like the Greater Yellowstone, Glacier Park, and Shelkirk Mountains of Northern Idaho.
The survival of the grizzly bear depends on several factors such as: amount of food they need and amount of space they need to live. Grizzly bears have tremendous food requirements in order to survive–adult females average 300 pounds, and males around 450 pounds, stated Stevens. Furthermore, grizzly bears are opportunistic feeders thriving on roots, berries, pine nuts, insects, herbaceous vegetation, fish, small mammals, and occasionally wild ungulates and their young.
With grizzly bears wide variety of provisions, they need a large area to sustain themselves. Stevens stated, a male grizzly bear will use up to a 500 square mile “home range” throughout its life. Glover and Johnson stated, a female grizzly bear will use up 11-490 square miles throughout its life. Being that the grizzly bear is a wide-ranging, slow breeding species, and as such, are very good indicators of the overall health of the ecosystems they depend upon. If the habitat is in good shape, one could assume the bear is doing rather well(Stevens, Target Earth).

However, conservation biologist states, none of the current grizzly populations is large enough to sustain itself over time. Aldo Leoplod states, the most feasible way to enlarge the area available for wilderness fauna is for the wilder parts of the National Forests, which usually surround the Parks, to function as parks in respect of threatened species. Leopold goes on to state, they have not so functioned is tragically illustrated in the case of the grizzly bear. The Greater Yellowstone is isolated from other wildland ecosystems.
These populations become vulnerable to inbreeding and other genetic problems, it is critical to have these grizzly bear ecosystems connected by “linkages” or “biological corridors. ” Ecosystems are much larger than the designated national parks within them. At the core of the Greater Yellowstone National Park, which is 2. 2 million acres. The ecosystem is 18 million acres and includes 7 national forests, wilderness areas, national wildlife refuges and Bureau of Land Management land. Bears are not only dependent upon the National Park “core,” but also upon the surrounding lands.
Scientists have long recognized that these species are dependent upon the health of the entire ecosystem(Stevens, Target Earth). The grizzly bears habitat is slowly diminishing. The Northeast part of Greater Yellowstone provides a good example of the overall cumulative effects that many activities can have on an area. This area has been one of the best and most productive regions for grizzly bears. However, the U. S. Forest Service has been steadily logging and roading many of the last non-wilderness public lands in the region. For example, in one area called the Sunlight Basin, nearly, 4,500 acres of trees have been harvested since 1986.
All of this timber was in grizzly habitat. Unfortunately, more timber sales are planned for this are in the future(Stevens, Target Earth).. In addition, on our national forest lands, logging and mining companies and willing federal agencies continue the steady drumbeat of resource extraction. Logging, road building and other developments have begun to invade and alter these landscapes, reducing their ability to support grizzly bears in two critical ways: first, transforming large expanses of land into smaller patches that will be isolated from each other.
If the remaining patches become separated by too great a distance, populations of grizzly bears will inevitably decline and may disappear altogether. Second, development brings humans in to the habitat of bears, which inevitably leads to more disturbance and illegal bear kills. It is this kind of scenario that is typical of the remaining 2% of grizzly habitat in the United States(Stevens, Target Earth). Furthermore, when we protect habitat for the grizzly bear, we are also protecting other non-game species, clean water, big game habitat and places for people to experience the wonder of creation.
Protecting the last 2%of grizzly bear habitat in the lower 48 states is a delicate balancing act. In the 20 years since the grizzly bear was listed as a threatened species, habitat critical to its survival has been steadily eroded, through clear-cutting, excessive forest road building, oil and gas drilling and private development. Stevens states, proper balance and conservation of grizzly habitat is the key to the bears future. The grizzly bear is one of Yellowstone’s most popular attractions. It is a symbol of the rugged west.
At one time, populations were thought to be between 50,000 and 100,000 bears in the 1800s in North America. However, by 1900, only a few bears remained in scattered areas. In 1975, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed less than 1,000 bears remained. Today, biologist report 280-610 grizzlies inhabit the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. This estimate comes from a study team of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee(Glover and Johnson). Today, there are many organizations and efforts to preserve the grizzly bears for the generations to come.
One such organization is the Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project. This project was initiated in 1994 to address the urgent need for scientific information about the cumulative effect of human development and activities on grizzly bears in this area. The ESGBP actively promotes the application of this information in management and conservation contexts. One of the objectives of the ESGBP is to focus on research efforts on the cumulative effects of regional land use and mortality factors on grizzly bears.
Another objective is to contribute to the conservation of grizzly bear populations and their habitat in the Central Rockies Ecosystems and especially the eastern Slopes(Canadianrockies). If a plan is not devised to help promote and preserve the wildlife of the grizzly bears, it may not be long before they are taken off the Endangered Species list and placed on the extinction list. Author Edward Abbey stated, “It is my fear that if we allow the freedom of the hills and the last of the grizzly to be taken away from us, then the very idea of freedom may die with it”.
And, “We must not allow our national parks and national forests to be degraded to the status of mere playgrounds”. Grizzly bears obviously need a large space for survival being their provisions range from a wide variety of nuts and berries. Also, the adult females only produce every three years due to the fact their young stay with them for two years. This is one reason why grizzly bears do not reproduce rapidly. Grizzly bears are the second slowest reproducing land mammal in North America. By keeping the grizzly bear from becoming extinct, it protects many other animals from becoming extinct as well.

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