America's Voice for a Greater Yellowstone!

GYC strongly supports legislation that is introduced in the U.S. Congress, calling for protections for East Rosebud Creek, a spectacular stream that rushes off the granite shoulders of the Beartooth Mountains through undulating ranchlands. East Rosebud is a stronghold for native cutthroat trout.

Have you caught a cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake?

HOME > Issues > Wildlife
Grizzly Bears: Common sense works to keep people and grizzly bears safe

Latest News: The Greater Yellowstone Coalition’s Executive Director, Caroline Byrd, recently stood before a packed room of wildlife biologists and grizzly bear managers to share the organization’s vision for a healthy and sustainable grizzly population. Part of this vision includes the critical need of reducing potentially dangerous encounters between bears and people. After tragic human fatalities in 2011 and 2012, the U.S. Forest Service undertook a research project focused on making campgrounds safer for both people and grizzly bears. The study identified priority locations in need of bear-safe garbage bins, food storage containers, better signage and campsites that needed to be closed or relocated due to persistent encounters with grizzlies.

In order to turn the results of the study into reality, the Forest Service needed additional funding well beyond their own. This is where the Greater Yellowstone Coalition stepped in. In late October, the Coalition announced a three-year partnership with all five National Forests in Greater Yellowstone to spend close to $1 million dollars on bear-safe containers and campground safety improvements. Importantly, most of the containers will be built here in the ecosystem, providing jobs and contributing to the economies of local communities.

This exciting new partnership begins just as new numbers were released that indicate more than 750, and possibly as many as 1,000, grizzly bears are now found in Greater Yellowstone. The slow, steady climb from less than 200 bears in the early 1980s is a remarkable conservation success story. But to sustain this success, new strategies and approaches are needed. At a time when there are more grizzlies in more places and more people hiking, camping and exploring Greater Yellowstone’s amazing backcountry, effective tools such as bear-safe bins, bear spray and electric fencing can help keep people safe and more bears alive.

Overview: GYC was founded in 1983 to save the Yellowstone grizzly bear from extinction, and the great bear is a wonderful conservation success story -- having rebounded from fewer than 200 in the 1970s to more than 700 today.

As we look ahead, GYC's Yellowstone grizzly bear emphasis will be on what we call "The Three C's": Core habitats, Connectivity and Conflict reduction. Regardless of whether the grizzly bear has Endangered Species Act protections, we believe the best long-term interests will be served by focusing on these three areas.

* Core habitats: We are working to ensure that the grizzly bear is able to expand into all suitable and appropriate habitats within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

* Connectivity: When Yellowstone grizzly bears finally meet with bears advancing from the north, it will be a game-changer. The Yellowstone grizzly will no longer be a vulnerable isolated population.

* Conflict reductions: The vast majority of grizzly bear deaths in Greater Yellowstone are a result of conflicts with humans. We are using a variety of tools -- including bear-proof garbage bin distribution, bear-spray education, electric fencing, carcass removal and retiring grazing allotments -- to dramatically reduce conflicts. It’s working: no bears have been lethally removed from Island Park over coflict with garbage since we launched a program to distribute bear-proof bins there in 2008. In addition, in partnership with the Bridger-Teton National Forest, we provided four large bear-proof storage containers to be placed on the forest.

We believe this is the right strategy, and that it’s working: in 2013 and 2014 conflicts remained low and grizzly bear mortality was cut by more than half. Today in Greater Yellowstone the population estimate is between 750 and 1,000 bears. That's more than triple the numbers from the early 1980s. The information comes from the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee of the regional Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee's report on the status of the Yellowstone grizzly. Watch this video of executive director Caroline Byrd in response to the news.

Project Goals:  Grizzly bears embody the mystique of Yellowstone, and define what sets Yellowstone apart from the rest of the West. They can only thrive where their habitat is still vast and intact, in areas with few roads. We are determined to ensure that Yellowstone remains a stronghold for bears for generations to come via "The Three C's": Core habitat, Connectivity and Conflict reduction.

Photo: Cindy Goeddel Photography


Donate now and help support our work.

Spread The Word! Tell A Friend About This Issue.


* More than 740 grizzly bears now roam Greater Yellowstone.

* About 80 miles separate Yellowstone grizzlies from other populations.

* Grizzly bears are omnivores whose diet ranges from elk calves and carcasses to berries and moths.

Chris Colligan, Wildlife Program Coordinator

Latest News