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Photo by Tom Mangelsen (Images of Nature)

Grizzly Bears of the Northern Rocky Mountains

This site features all that is relevant to understanding, managing, and conserving grizzly bears--Ursus arctos--in the northern Rocky Mountains of the United States. The information presented here encompasses the Yellowstone ecosystem at the juncture of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, and the Northern Continental Divide and Cabinet-Yaak ecosystems in northwestern Montana (see the map below). My primary focus is diet, habitat relations, and connections of these phenomena to demography and, ultimately, conservation. The foods bears eat, the locations where they eat them, the effects of both on birth and death rates, and the proximal reasons why bears die are essential grounding for insight into the past, present, and future prospects of any population.

I hope that this site both gratifies and inspires readers. One of my main motivations is satisfaction of personal curiosity, together with a need to scratch the creative itch. Another primary motive is political. There is much being promulgated by government spokespeople about grizzly bears in the northern Rocky Mountains that can be fairly called propaganda or, more generously, a highly selective and otherwise distorted representation of what we collectively know about bears in this part of the world. This site is intended to be a corrective for this partisan spin. No person, including myself, can legitimately claim to be objective, but I do aspire to present as complete, as integrated, as relevant, and as factual a picture of grizzly bears in this part of the world as is possible. If nothing else, I hope that you, the reader, will find what I present here interesting.

At this juncture, perhaps the most important thing to be said about this site is that it is actively under construction. I have begun with DIET & HABITAT and, after completing most entries, will move on to DEMOGRAPHY and then CONSERVATION. I view this as a logical progression from foundations to derivative implications. Although I am adding content pretty much every day, at the time I write this I have covered Army Cutworm Moths, Whitebark Pine, Cutthroat Trout, and Bison--all fascinating topics in their own right.

The map at left provides preliminary orientation to the geography covered in this site and the context within which it functions, at least from the perspective of grizzly bear populations. Everything in dark pink represents the core of grizzly bear distribution in the Rocky Mountains of Canada and the United States. Light pink denotes peripheral or otherwise marginal distributions. The tan area located over central Idaho represents well-documented potential but, as yet, unoccupied grizzly bear habitat. Several of the populations are labeled, of notable relevance here is the Yellowstone ecosystem farthest south, the Purcell-Yahk/Yaak population spanning the US-Canada border, and what I call the Heart of the Grizzly Bear Nation, which encompasses the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem of the US and grizzly bear populations along the main range of the Canadian Rocky Mountains stretching north to Jasper National Park. Importantly, the Yellowstone population is currently isolated from grizzly bears anywhere else in the world, as is (more-or-less) the Cabinet Mountain's population of a dozen or so bears located immediately south of the Yahk/Yaak. Inasmuch as this map represents the current reality, it also offers a spatial blueprint for long-term conservation of grizzlies in this part of the world, including reoccupancy of Central Idaho, and multiple connections between currently-isolated populations. For more on this see CONSERVATION (under construction).