Grizzly bears once roamed over most of North America west of the Mississippi. Within the last century grizzlies were reduced to a few remnant populations scattered through the Northern Rockies and Cascades. Two of the six remaining areas are in northwest Montana. The largest area straddles the continental divide from Canada south to near Missoula. Another area is near Libby in the Cabinet/Yaak. Scientists estimate 500-600 grizzlies currently live in northwest Montana. In 1975 grizzlies were listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act.
Why do so few grizzlies now roam the lower 48 states? Mainly because people have moved into bear habitat. Population recovery is slow because grizzlies have a low reproductive rate. Recently, many bear deaths have resulted from people inadvertently attracting bears into areas where people live.