Yellowstone’s Top Predator
Grizzly bears are the largest of two species of bear that call Greater Yellowstone home; the other being black bears. Grizzlies are typically much larger and more aggressive than their black bear cousins, and feature a prominent “hump” above their shoulders.
The grizzly bear is a subspecies of brown bear that once roamed large swaths of the mountains and prairies of the American West. Their populations were drastically reduced in the 1800s and early 1900s by hunting and habitat loss. Today, the grizzly bear remains in a few isolated locations in the lower 48 states, including the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In coastal Alaska and Eurasia, the grizzly bear is known as the brown bear.
An estimated 728 grizzlies live in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, as of a 2019 population survey. This is a significant increase since 1975, when there were only 136. Grizzlies have expanded their occupied habitat by more than 50% since that 1975.
Grizzly bears typically live between 15-30 years. However, one local bear (named Grizzly 168) surprised biologists last summer by living to be a record 34 years of age!