Grizzly bears are expanding their territory in the U.S. Northern Rockies, spreading from remote wilderness into farmland.
In the past two years, government data show bears in the Yellowstone regions of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho have increased their range by around 1,500 square miles, currently occupying almost 27,000 square miles, a 34 percent increase in the past decade.
This puts them on private lands and increases the likelihood of encounters with humans and livestock. In fact, bear run-ins are happening in areas where the animals hadn’t been seen for decades.
Wyoming and Idaho officials proposed grizzly hunts back in 2018 but were blocked by a judge’s ruling.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen said in part that officials had not given enough consideration to the effects the hunting would have on other grizzly populations in the Rockies.
Environmentalists also argue that it’s too soon to lift protections that were first imposed back in 1975, further adding that the genetic health of isolated bruin populations in Yellowstone should be considered.
Yellowstone became a stronghold for the species during the last century, after hunting and trapping reduced bear numbers across most of their range.
While the park remains a bastion for grizzlies, younger males look for territory of their own outside the park, with the females soon trailing behind.
In recent years, there have been reports of bear attacks on livestock in central Montana, dozens of miles outside of protected wild areas and where ranches and farmland occupy the landscape.
With the seeming spread of bears in the northern Rockies and the peak season for bear encounters coming up, check out this article from American Survival Guide that could help you survive if you find yourself face-to-face with a grizzly!