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Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) Fact Sheet: Population & Conservation Status

Population Status

Global population estimate: exceeds 200,000 individuals (McLellan et al. 2017)

  • Russia - more than 100,000
  • U.S. - 33,000
    • Over 500 in and near Yellowstone National Park
  • Canada - 25,000
  • Europe - 15,400
    • Several very small isolated populations
  • Hokkaido, Japan - 2,200 or more

Conservation Status

(Herrero 1994) (McLellan et al 2008) (Servheen 1999) (

  • IUCN Status
  • CITES Status (UNEP 2020)
    • Appendix I: only the populations of Bhutan, China, Mexico and Mongolia
      • Also subspecies Ursus arctos isabellinus
    • Appendix II: all other populations
  • Legally hunted in some areas, where abundant
    • Alaska, Russia, Japan, parts of Europe
    • Cosidered a big game animal
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Endangered Species Act (Federal Register 1975)
  • Survey work to determine numbers and distribution urgently needed in Afghanistan; currently on Afghanistan's Protected Species List.
  • Rare in places like Nepal and Iran
  • U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2000: (Schwartz et al 2003)
    • Grizzly Bear Recovery Progam aims to restore grizzlys with a cooperative effort to a core widerness area of 14,983 sq km (5785 sq mi) in central Idaho and western Montana.

Threats to Survival

(McLellan et al 2008) (Proctor et al 2005)

  • Hunting by humans for sport, or unsustainable control measures.
  • Poaching for commercial trade in gall bladders and paws, especially in Russian Far East
    • North America may be next source of bear organs for medicinal uses unless belief systems change, or legal penalties provide limits to exploitation. (Servheen 1999)
  • Destruction and fragmentation of habitats leads to vulnerable small populations.
  • Causes of fragmented habitats:
    • Highways
    • Hydroelectric developments
    • Plantation forestry
    • Agriculture
  • Bears' attraction to areas with human foods
  • Factors impacting salmon survival which in turn threatens some grizzly populations: (Mowat & Heard 2006)
    • Global climate change
    • Overfishing
    • Hydroelectric plants
    • Destruction of salmon spawning habitats (Mowat & Heard 2006)
  • Lack of reliable bear population estimates for sound management practices
  • Size of home range may require extensive cooperation between management units and countries (Herrero 1994)

Page Citations

Federal Register (1975, 2007, 2010)
McLellan et al (2008)
Proctor et al (2005)
Servheen (1999)

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