Yellowstone’s expert on grizzly bears says it’s time to delist them. Bear Management biologist Kerry Gunther edited the recent Yellowstone Science magazine dedicated to grizzly bear recovery.
“Where are the grizzly bears” is one of the most frequently asked questions at Yellowstone Park Entrances. That question often gets answered now.
Yellowstone Bear Management Specialist Kerry Gunther said in the early eighties it was rare to see any bear in the Park. But things have changed.
He remarked, “You can easily see a dozen bears in one morning out in Lamar Valley with a spotting scope, or a dozen, two dozen bears on a bison carcass”
Gunther said scientific studies show there are more bears, and a higher density of bears inside the Park now. He said the ecosystem is at carrying capacity.
He explained, “I do believe the grizzly bear population has recovered enough to consider removal from threatened status. Population numbers have more than tripled since they were listed as a threatened species. And bears now occupy a much bigger range than they did in the 1970s.”
That's led to more encounters with people. A study he conducted found that most day hikers, fail to heed park warnings to carry bear spray, and travel in groups. He said people need to change their behavior.