Development threatens Yellowstone grizzlies, group says
The grizzly bear's current expanse in the lower 48 states is 2 percent of its original range
May 28, 1999
Web posted at: 4:03 p.m. EDT (2003 GMT)
Escalating development is threatening potential key grizzly bear habitat in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the Sierra Club says. Such rapid growth, unprecedented around Yellowstone, could be bad news for the grizzly bear, which requires large blocks of unbroken, undeveloped, wilderness to survive.
The grizzly bear's historic range covered much of North America from the mid-plains westward to California and from central Mexico north throughout Alaska and Canada.
Listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act today, the grizzly bear count is less than 1,000 in the lower 48 states, equaling 2 percent of its original range.
Project director for the Sierra Club Grizzly Bear Eco-Systems Project, Louisa Willcox, said the new report "underscores the need for landowners to be aware of how to live
sensibly with grizzly bears. Development increases the likelihood that bears will come
into contact and conflict with humans -- the number one cause of grizzly bear mortality."
Grizzly bears need a significant amount of wilderness space because their habitat changes throughout the year. In the spring, there are more bear conflicts with humans.
arise when high winter snow pack forces the bears down low," Willcox said. "Many people confuse more bears at lower elevations with a growing bear count. The bears do not have many options."
Using development indicators, such as water well and septic permits, in conjunction with available state and county data, the report by the Sierra Club Grizzly Bear Ecosystems
Project traced more than two decades of growth on private lands that represent about 20 percent of the Greater Yellowstone Eco-System in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
"Sprawl, logging, oil and gas drilling, off-road vehicle use and roading are destroying grizzly bear habitat acre-by-acre. Now, more than ever, it should be clear that removing the grizzly from federal protection could forever jeopardize the gizzly's chances of recovery," Willcox said.
Copyright 1999, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved
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