Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Scientists say grizzly bears are expanding their habitat around Yellowstone

Map by Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team
Scientists say grizzly bears are expanding their habitat in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, Mike Koshmrl reports for the Jackson Hole Daily in Jackson, Wyo. "Since the population crashed in the 1970s and the animal earned the protection of the Endangered Species Act, grizzlies’ occupied habitat has steadily expanded outward from the population’s core in Yellowstone National Park. That spread has continued at a considerable clip since 2015."

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, a group of scientists and biologists formed in 1973 by the Department of the Interior responsible for long-term monitoring and research efforts on grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, said they have seen an 11 percent change in increasing range of grizzlies in the past few years, Koshmrl writes.

Frank van Manen, head scientist for the group, "attributed the highest-ever numbers of grizzlies dying in 2015 (61 mortalities) and 2016 (58) to the expansion outward from wilderness areas and national parks and into working landscapes,"  Koshmrl writes. Van Manen told reporters, “Bears are simply entering a landscape where the potential for conflict is greater.”

The population of grizzlies within the monitoring area has fallen for two consecutive years, from about 750 animals to 690, reports The Associated Press. "Twenty-seven percent of grizzly range within the region is now outside a 'demographic monitoring area' where bear numbers are assessed annually."

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