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Distribution of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, 1990-2000

July 13, 2001

The Yellowstone grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) has been expanding its range during the past 2 decades and now occupies historic habitats that had been vacant. A current understanding of the distribution of grizzly bears within the ecosystem is useful in the recovery process and to help guide the state and federal land management agencies and state wildlife agencies of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana as they prepare management plans. We used kernel estimators to develop distribution maps of occupied habitats based on initial sightings of unduplicated females (n = 300) with cubs-of-the-year, information from radiomarked bears (n = 105), and locations of conflicts, confrontations, and mortalities (n = 1,235). Although each data set was constrained by potential sampling bias, together they provided insight into areas within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) currently occupied by grizzly bears. The current distribution (1990-2000) extends beyond the recovery zone identified in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Recovery Plan. Range expansion is particularly evident in the southern portion of the ecosystem in Wyoming. A comparison of our results from the 1990s to previously published distribution maps show an approximate increase in occupied habitat of 48% and 34% from the 1970s and 1980s, respectively. We discuss data biases and problems implicit to the analysis.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2002
Title Distribution of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, 1990-2000
Authors Charles C. Schwartz, Mark A. Haroldson, Kerry A. Gunther, D. Moody
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ursus
Series Number
Index ID 70159737
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center