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Grizzly Bear Recovery Zones in Montana

Photo of grizzly bear

The grizzly bear’s historic range stretched across western North America, from the plains to California, from central Mexico to Alaska. After the arrival of European settlers, grizzly bear populations were eliminated from all but approximately 2 percent of their historic range in the lower 48 states. By the 1930s, the population in the Northern Rockies dipped below an estimated 300, most of which lived in Montana near Glacier and Yellowstone national parks.

Under the authority of the federal Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) as a threatened species in the lower 48 states in 1975. Healthier populations of grizzly bears existed, and still exist today, in Canada and Alaska.

The recovery of the grizzly bear centered on establishing viable populations in six ecosystems where the species was known to or believed to exist when it was listed in 1975.

The six identified recovery zones, or ecosystems, are:

  • The Northern Continental Divide in northwest Montana
  • The Greater Yellowstone in portions of southwestern Montana, northwestern Wyoming, and eastern Idaho
  • The Bitterroot in western Montana and northern Idaho
  • The Cabinet-Yaak in northwestern Montana and northern Idaho
  • The Selkirk in northern Idaho and eastern Washington
  • The North Cascades in north-central Washington