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Grizzly Bears: Reducing conflicts key to sustainable future
Latest News: Spring is on the way and bears are waking from hibernation in Yellowstone, which means those spending time in bear country should take extra measures to avoid conflict: travel in groups, make noise, stay at least 100 yards away from bears, and carry bear spray. Find more information on bear safety at Yellowstone National Park’s bear safety page.
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: 2013 mortality was cut by more than half in Greater Yellowstone and the population estimate is at 740. 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
HOW YOU CAN HELP
* 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.
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March 19, 2014 - For griz, no such thing as a guaranteed lunch
March 06, 2014 - Yellowstone bears begin to emerge from winter hibernation
March 01, 2014 - Attack doesn't dim Idaho man's reverence for grizzlies