Nature's Biggest Comebacks

Grizzly Bears

Our scientists have chosen the top 10 comeback stories in nature. These are the places, ecosystems and species that have been brought back from the brink of disaster. See what made the cut from the last century – and what we hope will be on our list in the next.

Grizzly Bears

The story of grizzly bears in the western United States is one of cautious optimism. 

Like many species, they suffered greatly during the westward expansion of human settlements in the 19th and early 20th centuries. These pressures continued and intensified until, by 1970, their numbers were low enough to earn them “threatened” status in the lower 48 states. 

Now their numbers are up to 600 in the Yellowstone area and they just might be taken off the threatened list.

“In California we lost them before we could save them,” says Conservancy lead scientist Sanjayan. “The last California grizzly died in a zoo. But in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming we have a real chance. People are finding ways of co-existing with the continent’s largest land predator. And bears are adapting too. It’s a real reason for hope.” 

Another key component of their comeback is habitat protection, particularly of the bears’ migratory corridors. In Montana, the Conservancy has been working to protect important wildlife migration corridors for grizzlies, lynx and other wide-roaming species as part of the Conservancy’s work in the “Crown of the Continent.”

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