Grizzly bears expand habitat, cause debate
Aug 16, 2011
Listed as threatened in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem in 1975, the grizzly bear population in Montana along the Rocky Mountains has since grown from 200 to 900, and is increasing by 2 to 3 percent each year, according to the Bend Bulletin.
With this growth comes new debate for how humans are allowed to treat the bears. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently writing a plan to manage the bears if their threatened status is lifted. Removing these Endangered Species Act regulations would possibly allow the bear to be shot and killed by property owners.
Currently, errant bears are removed from properties or public spaces with tranquilizers, and wildlife managers will haul killed livestock to distant mountains so bears will stay away from ranches.
In Canadian national and provincial parks that span the northernmost parts of the Rockies, 10 bears have been killed or removed this year, despite the fact that "these animals are supposed to be safe in the parks," bear researcher Colleen Campbell told the Vancouver Sun.
Grizzly bears are one of the only protected species that attack people. According to the Bend Bulletin, there are three to five bear attacks in the U.S. each year, usually because of a surprise encounter. Otherwise, bears generally avoid humans.