The Grizzly Bear

THE GRIZZLY BEAR 1

The extended nature of exploitation of the environment by humanbeings is pushing some organisms to extinction. The human activitiesand the like industrialization, deforestation and air pollutioninterferes with the natural environment of some species, and theygradually reduce in number. Also, some species have been recognizedby the state as endangered, and there have been laws to protect theremaining few. Various protective measures like close monitoring,protected areas, and setting funds for protection have ensured thestabilization of the remaining species.

is one of the endangered species in the UnitedStates of America. The grizzly bear belongs to kingdom Animalia andphylum chordata. It belongs to class mammalia, theorder of Carnivora and family Ursidae. The nameGrizzly emanated from the bears appearance of having golden and graytips on its coat. The ancestors of the grizzly bear were the brownbears that originated in Eurasia and traveled to North America 50,000years ago. It, therefore, makes the grizzly bears resemble the brownbears found in Siberia and Northeast Asia. The closest livingrelative of the grizzly bear is the Ussuri brown bear forthose inhabiting the mainland Grizzlies and the Kamchatka brown forthe Alaskan coastal and Kodiak bears. These arrived in North Americajust after the Bering land bridge flood.

An adult female grizzly weighs about 130-180 kilograms, and an adultmale weighs between 180-360 kilograms. An adult’s length from headto tail is about 6.5 feet and 102 centimeters in height. Thepronounced hump that appears on the shoulders of a grizzly beardistinguishes it from the black bears.

The bears occupy areas in Asia, Europe, and North America. Thediverse occupation makes it unique among the bear family. There alsohave been its species in North Africa and the Middle East. In theNorth America, the grizzly bear occupied the areas of Alaska andMexico and the western shores of the Hudson Bay. The remainingspecies are now found in Alaska and some part of the NorthwesternUnited States. Today, only about 1,500 grizzly bears are found inthe lower state of the United States. Of the total population in thecountry, 800 live in the state of Montana and 600 are found inWyoming. In Idaho, about 70 grizzly bears occupy the area. Thecombination of the Canadian and the American grizzly shows that thespecies occupies only half of its historical space.

Grizzlies are solitary animals that live in territories. However,females with cubs stay together until when the Cubs can fend forthemselves. Females have a gestation period of 25 days and they givebirth to between one and four cubs every year. The cubs are about 500grams at birth, and the mother is overly protective of her cubs andshe can attack any time she feels threatened.

The Grizzlies have one of the lowest reproducing capacities in themammals living in America. After mating in summer, the female delaysthe implantation until she goes into hibernation. Miscarriages oftenhappen during this period s if the female does not get enoughnutrients and calories. After giving birth, the cubs remain with themother for two years during which the mother will not mate. The youngones reach sexual maturity at the age of five years. Since they aresolitary animals they do occupy large territories, and it is,therefore, difficult to place the scent of a female ready to mate.

Grizzlies are normally omnivorous despite having a carnivorousdigestive system. They feed on both plants and animals. They preyinclude moose, elk, deer, bison and black bears. The bears living inthe coastal region feed on salmon fish and they grow larger than theones on the mainland due to a high concentration of proteins in theirdiet. The Grizzlies also scavenge for food, and they sometimes feedof leftovers of other predators.

In 1985, there was an estimated population of 1,200 grizzlies inAlberta and a total of 6,500 in British Columbia. Also, the NorthwestTerritories had about 5,000 grizzlies. The population has beendecreasing gradually. The BC era recorded a loss of 6,300 Grizzliesdue to hunting and poaching. The lifespan of grizzlies in America isabout 25 years.However, 95% of the grizzlies that live past twoyears due from gunshot wounds. In 1975, the grizzly bear was includedin the list of the endangered species in America and it was includedin the US endangered species act. By then, only 1,000 Grizzliesremained in the lower 48 states. There are several reasons leadingto the reduction in population o the species. First, the males aretargeted by trophy hunters for their size. In Alaska, males weigh upto 450 kilograms and hunters sought for them to make a kill.Secondly, the shrinking spaced to human habitation makes itunfavorable for their survival. Also, as observed, the females havevery low reproductive capacity and it is difficult t find a male tomate due to the large territories.

After the listing of the grizzly bear as endangered by the UnitedStates endangered species act, there have been various protectivemeasures to safeguard the remaining species from extinction. Foursmeasures have been instituted by different institutions. First, thereis a critical habitat designation program that where the Grizzliesbecome restricted in their natural environment. A good example is theKhtzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary that has an area of 109,000 acresand the Yellowstone National Park. They have restricted areas in ananti-hunting policy. There is also a couple of grizzly bears onGrouse Mountain. Also, there have been agreements to allow theGrizzlies to use their natural corridors during movements. The farmowners with expansive lands that occupy movement corridors havesigned pacts to protect the animals and this has helped to reduce thenumber of wounded grizzlies as a result of intrusion into the farms.There has been also a recovery plan in Yellowstone National Parkwhereby the recovery plan has helped to raise the population from 200to 600 in the protected area. The members of the public who own largetracts of land have made agreement to protect the grizzly bears whoseterritories overlap with their farms. The endangered species actprovides for the safe harbor agreement for certain animals, and itshifts some of the responsibility to the members of the public.

The endangered species act outlined the proposed economic burden ofprotecting the animals on the edge of extinction. The grizzly bearprotection was estimated to cost the country 12.6 million dollars.The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible forsetting designated areas to protects the bears and the Refuge forendangered species provide a five-acre terrain for the protection ofthe bars. The justice department enforces the regulations outlinedthe in the act. Another major stake holder is the InteragencyCommittee for the Recovery of Grizzly Bear that sensitizes the publicin the lower 48 regions on the behavior of the Grizzlies. There hasbeen a current controversy on the issue of self-defense for peopleattacked by grizzlies. The endangered species act does not allowpeople to kill the grizzly bear. However, a delegation from Idahomade improvements on the bill by presenting provisions for theprotection of people who take down grizzly bears in acts ofself-defense.

Since they are predators, the grizzly bears help to curtail thepopulation f te elk, the deer, and other small mammals, and thishelps to maintain a balance in the ecosystem. In the areas where thebears feed on large amounts of proteins helps to add nutrients to thesoil through their waste products. The Bears have a culturalimportance. The natives had close ties with the bear since theyconsidered it to have human attributes of taking care of the youngones, digging for medicinal roots and standing on two feet. They arealso among the most preferred animals by the visitors in theprotection areas including the Yellow National Park. I believe thatprotecting the bears is a worthy cause. The cultural importance thatthe people place on the Grizzlies may fade with their extinction.Also, it costs the protecting agencies a small amount of money thatis recoverable through local tourism. It is also one of the Americanlegendary animals and should, therefore, have protection from humaninstigated mortality.

In the next one decade, there is a possibility of the grizzly bearspopulation to increase six or seven fold. The recovery plan in theyellow National Park continues to provide favorable conditions forthe reproduction of the grizzlies. Also, the human inflicted violenceagainst them will reduce with the efforts of the InteragencyCommittee for the Restoration of the Grizzlies in the 48 states.

References

Calvignac,S., Hughes, S. &amp Hanni, C. (2009). Genetic Diversity ofEEndangered Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) Populations at the Crossroadsof Europe, Asia and Africa. Diversity and Distributions15:742–750

Derych,J. (2001). Brown / Grizzly Bear Facts.Minnesota: North American Bear Center.

Gaines, W.L., W.O.Noble, and R.H. Naney. 2001. Grizzly Bear Recovery in the NorthCascades Ecosystem. Western Black Bear Workshop 7:57-62.

U.S. Fish andWildlife Service. 1982. Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan. Denver: Colorado.195 pp

Wakkinen, W.L. andW.F. Kasworm. 2004. Demographics and Population Trends of GrizzlyBears in the Cabinet-Yaak and Selkirk Ecosystems of British Columbia,Idaho, Montana and Washington. Ursus Workshop Supplement,15(1): 65-75