Any visitor to a national park is either lucky or in great danger if they see a wild animal. Yellowstone National Park’s beautiful creatures will take your breath away, but you should not let them take your life. Seeing over a hundred raccoons may not evoke fear, but imagine seeing hundreds of grizzly bears roaming in that area. Grizzly bears are some of nature’s most frightening beasts; however, they are also symbols of a thriving ecosystem. This raises the question: how many grizzly bears live in Yellowstone National Park? This article uncovers the number of grizzly bears roaming Yellowstone and other interesting facts.
How Many Grizzly Bears Live in Yellowstone National Park?
About 150 grizzly bears live in ranges that are partly or entirely contained within Yellowstone National Park. Since 1996, the annual cub birth rate has remained stable, implying that the grizzly population in the habitat range may already be at capacity.
The number of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem increased from 136 in 1975 to an estimated peak of 757 in 2014, and the estimated bear population for 2019 was 728. The bears’ occupied habitat has gradually grown by more than 50%.
Dramatic gorges, alpine rivers, lush forests, hot springs, and spouting geysers are all highlights of Yellowstone, which is a perfect place for bears, wolves, bison, elk, antelope, and hundreds more to thrive.
What Are the Two Types of Bears in Yellowstone National Park, and Where Can We Find Them?
Grizzly bears and black bears are two different bear species found in Yellowstone. Grizzly bears are the less common of the two species in the United States. They range in color from pale brown to almost black. Their longer, less curled front claws, humped shoulders, and concave-looking facial profile set them apart from black bears. The word “grizzly” comes from the coat’s longer guard hairs, which are covered by dense underfur and typically have silver or golden tips. In general, grizzly bears are bigger than black bears. They also have more muscle mass above their shoulders, a concave facial profile as opposed to a straight or convex one, and are significantly more aggressive.
Yellowstone is one of the few remaining grizzly bear habitats in the lower 48 states today. These bears are occasionally spotted in the wild and are frequently sighted close to roadways. Around Yellowstone Lake, Fishing Bridge, the Hayden and Lamar Valleys, Swan Lake Flats, and the East Entrance are where you will likely encounter them in the spring. They are most frequently spotted in the Hayden and Lamar Valleys and the meadows between Tower-Roosevelt and Canyon in the middle of the summer.
Black bears are occasionally active in the middle of the day, although they are most active at night and at dawn. Black bears are most frequently seen in the Northeast Entrance, Mammoth, and Tower.
How Dangerous Are Grizzlies to People?
While grizzly bears are cuddly and cute, it’s crucial to remember that these bears in Yellowstone National Park are wild animals and can be dangerous. Although not all bears are considered dangerous, you should take more precautions around grizzlies. They are so intimidating due to their large size and powerful build. They possess superhuman physical strength and a bite force of 975 PSI that can instantly split your body in half. Their actions can sometimes be unpredictable, but they won’t attack unless they are startled or provoked.
Female grizzly bears will attack you without hesitation if their cubs are in danger. Grizzlies may quickly outpace you, regardless of whether you’re a top sprinter or marathon runner, as they are the second-fastest bears on the planet.
Human attacks are uncommon, but when they happen, they can result in fatalities and severe injuries. In fact, since Yellowstone was established in 1872, bears have killed eight people in the park. The most recent grizzly bear-related death occurred in 2015 when a hiker was brutally murdered by an adult female grizzly bear near the Elephant Back Loop Trail in Lake Village.
Are Grizzly Bears Considered an Endangered Species?
Grizzly bears in the lower 48 were listed as endangered in 1975 after they had been nearly wiped out. Today, the grizzly bear in the United States is classified as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Due to their decreasing population, the lower 48 states have fewer than 1,500 grizzlies left and approximately 31,000 in Alaska.
The grizzly bear’s original range included Alaska, Canada’s western half, more than half of the western United States, and the majority of Mexico. Grizzly bears were thought to number over 50,000 in the Lower 48 states at their peak. According to the National Wildlife Federation, bears have now lost 98% of their historic range. What gives?
The grizzly bear became a major threat as Anglo-Americans colonized their territory. The Native Americans, however, revered bears as sacred animals. So they hunted them as a test of strength every once in a while.
Grizzlies were frequently encountered by early European explorers due to their large size and aggressive nature. As a result, they decided to hunt them down to reduce their population. Logging, mining, oil and gas drilling, and land development devastated the powerful bears’ habitats over the last century.
Grizzly bears started to fade as a result of such hunting and habitat destruction during the West’s settlement. It is estimated that 10,000 grizzlies once roamed California. By 1924, there were no longer any grizzly bears in the area.
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- National Park Service (1970) https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/grizzlybear.htm#:~:text=The estimated Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem,habitat by more than 50%25
- The National Parks Experience, Available here: https://www.travel-experience-live.com/best-national-parks-to-see-brown-grizzly-bears-usa/