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Some relevant agency documents on reducing conflicts

Bear managers and others who care have on numerous occasions undertaken to document and diagnose the problems leading to dead grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem. Many of these efforts were commissioned by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee (YES) in response to periodic spikes in bear mortality. In most instances these crises revolved around eruptions of conflict associated with big game hunters and their outfitters. The associated reports contain many recommendations that are as relevant now and when they were written, some as far back as the early 1980s. The following links will take you to pdfs of the most important of these documents:


  • The 1982 Wauer memo on the ciris of pending extirpation (Wauer 1982)

  • A 1983 paper by Hoak and his co-authors on conflicts between hunters and grizzlies in the Thorofare (Hoak et al 1983)

  • A 1991 YES-commissioned report on hunter-related conflicts (YES 1991)

  • A 2000 YES-commissioned white paper on hunter-related conflicts (YES 2000)

  • A 2001 statement by Yellowstone NP Thorofare ranger, Bob Jackson, on hunter-grizzly conflicts (Jackson 2001)

  • A 2001 draft report by Kaminski on a workshop devoted to hunter-realted conflicts (Kaminski 2001)

  • The pdf of a 2002 presentation by Servheen on grizzly-human conflicts & potential solutions (Servheen 2002)

  • A 2004 YES-commissioned report on hunter-related conflicts (YES 2004)

  • A 2009 YES-commissioned report on reducing human-bear conflicts, with emphasis on hunters (YES 2009



Delisting: a bad idea

Yellowstone’s grizzly bear population is still not recovered! Yellowstone’s population of roughly 750 grizzly bears is completely isolated from all other grizzly bear populations and much smaller than the 2000+ animals widely considered necessary for long-term viability. 

Agency Spin

Read a summary of the key claims of being made by government scientists and managers, and a  response to each. its necessarily long due to the complexity of the issues presented. But its worth understanding what is really going on.

Food Fight

In 2009, federal endangered species protections were restored for the Yellowstone grizzly bear population in response to a court ruling that found that the government had failed to evaluate the effects of the collapse of whitebark pine, a key staple for the population. In 2013, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST) issued a report, “Response of Yellowstone grizzly bears to changes in food resources: a synthesis”, that concluded that whitebark pine was not essential for recovery of the Yellowstone grizzly bear.  REALLY IGBST??

Public Backs Bears

In the public processes related to management of Yellowstone grizzly bears during the last two decades, the public has come out swinging for bears and their habitat. 

Read about it here

What the People Say

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), over 212,000 comments were submitted on the 2006 proposal to remove endangered species protections (“delist”) the Yellowstone grizzly bear.  Over 99% of those comments opposed delisting.  

Bear Safety

People are the primary cause of almost all grizzly bear deaths. Fortunately, most conflicts are avoidable, but only if we are mindful and take precautions. Here are some basic tips. 

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Getting hurt by a grizzly

Wilderness—with or without the Great Bear—is a perilous place where a person can slip on a rock, be buried in an avalanche, drown or die of hyperthermia.  According to The Great American Bear by Jeff Thorne, a person is twelve times more likely to be killed by a bee sting, than by a grizzly bear. . .

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Bear Spray

What Is Bear Pepper Spray? Bear pepper spray is a highly effective method of deterring an aggressive bear.  The proper use of bear pepper spray against an attacking bear can reduce the number of black bears and endangered grizzly bears killed in self-defense, as well as human injuries and deaths.  While bear pepper spray promotes safety, it is not “brains in a can.” 

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Reading Bear Behavior

Knowledge about bear behavior is important to the safety of humans and bears alike in bear habitat. Bears are intelligent, inquisitive and generally peaceful animals that rarely attack humans – but you should use caution. Encounters with bears do occur, but can be avoided if you prepare yourself with vital information before taking to the outdoors in bear country.

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Grizzly bears are threatened by habitat loss, excessive mortality, and climate change not only in the lower-48 states, but throughout their range worldwide. Grizzly bear managers have repeatedly stated that the lions’ share of grizzly bear deaths are avoidable.


Human tolerance and compassion shape the landscape where bears can live today. The number one cause of grizzly bear deaths is people, whether by poaching, shooting in personal defense or protection of property, or by government officials in response to a perceived conflict.   


It is both good and bad news that the dynamics affecting the rates and causes of death can and do change in response to public demands. For example, mortality rates of bears dropped significantly after grizzly bears were given federal protection in 1975 and as garbage was cleaned up in Yellowstone and Glacier parks. If people had continued to kill grizzly bears at the same rate as before, bears would likely have been extirpated in the lower-48 states. Bottom line: we can change course in a positive direction and coexist with grizzly bears if we choose to.


Progress towards recovery of the grizzly bear continues to be tragically uneven. Worldwide, grizzly bears are on a downhill slide in most places. Closer to home, malicious killing is the leading cause of grizzly bear deaths in one of the most imperiled populations in the lower 48 states: the Cabinet-Yaak in Northwest Montana.


This section will summarize the current and looming challenges for recovery of grizzly bears. Although the effects of climate change have been seen most clearly in Yellowstone, there will undoubtedly be additional major, adverse changes in availability of grizzly bear foods with related increases in bear-human conflicts and human-caused mortalities throughout grizzly bear range.  


If you get too depressed, see the success stories here


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