Grizzly Bears in Wyoming

Grizzly bears that can be found throughout northwest Wyoming are a part of the Yellowstone area grizzly bear population. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has an extensive grizzly bear management program that includes research and monitoring, conflict management, education and outreach. The foundation of this program is rooted in education and outreach and working with the public to reduce the potential for conflict between grizzly bears and people. 


Learn about how the Wyoming Game and Fish Department monitors grizzly bear populations, how conflicts between humans and bears are managed and how to stay safe in bear country. 



Stay safe in bear county.

Bear Wise Wyoming

Wyoming is bear country. Learn what to do in an encounter situation, how to avoid attracting a bear to your home or camp, how to minimize your risk while recreating in areas occupied by bears. 

Bear Wise Wyoming

Know your bears

Wyoming is home to both black bears and grizzly bears.


Learn how to determine species by looking for a combination of four key characteristics that distinguish black bears from grizzly bears. Never use just color or size to identify a bear.

Grizzly ID
Black bear ID

About grizzly bears in Wyoming

Grizzly bears are a symbolic icon of wilderness in Wyoming and a wildlife conservation success story. Wyoming has always been home to grizzly bears and the work of the people that live, work and recreate in grizzly bear country has successfully recovered this population from the brink of extirpation. Grizzly bears populations are now thriving in Wyoming, with high densities existing throughout suitable habitat for the species. Grizzly bear populations have biologically recovered in Wyoming, however grizzly bears are currently listed as a threatened population under the Endangered Species Act. 


Because grizzly bears are inherently more aggressive than their black bear counterparts, the Wyoming Game and Fish continually works to reduce conflict potential between grizzly bears and humans through education and outreach.

Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Ursidae
Subfamily: Ursinae
Genus: Ursus
Species: arcto


Like black bears, grizzly bears are a long lived species with males and females living in excess of 25 years in Wyoming and rare examples of individuals living past the age of 30.

Wyoming Population

Grizzly bears can be found throughout northwest Wyoming and exist in high densities throughout suitable habitat for the species. Grizzly bears found in Wyoming are part of the Yellowstone area grizzly bear population. While Wyoming has the majority of grizzly bears in the ecosystem, parts of this population also inhabit eastern Idaho and southern Montana. The Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear population has grown in abundance, distribution and density since being at all time lows in the early 1980s.

Wyoming Classification

Trophy game animal

How do we monitor grizzly bears?

Grizzly bears have been intensively monitored in Wyoming for multiple decades and the population is managed cooperatively by state, federal and local agencies across jurisdictional boundaries in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). The Wyoming Game and Fish Department takes the lead in monitoring grizzly bears in the GYE, and personnel from the large carnivore section annually capture grizzly bears to maintain a representative sample of the population. Captured bears are fitted with tracking collars and data from these collars helps biologists gain insight into survival, reproduction and mortality and overall condition of the larger population. In addition, monitoring  provides information about habitat use and fine scale movements.


Distribution of Grizzly Bears in Wyoming

The map depicts the approximate area frequented by grizzly bears. It should be noted that grizzlies may be present outside of known distribution areas. 

Distribution of Grizzly Bears in Wyoming

History of grizzly bears in Wyoming


Grizzly bears listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.


The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee was formed to coordinate on bears in the Lower 48 states. Staffed by federal, state, tribal and local interests, the committee makes recommendations to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the listing status of the bear in the lower 48.


The USFWS issues the Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan.


The USFWS defines three specific goals for recovery. The goals must be met for six consecutive years: population goal, human-caused cub mortality limits and adult male mortality limits.


The draft Conservation Strategy is complete. It includes the management approach and allows for biologically and socially suitable expansion of bears outside the conservation area.


Wyoming Grizzly Bear Management plan completed, outlining the plan for state management following delisting.


The Conservation Strategy is approved. This will take effect once grizzlies are recovered.


All recovery criteria are met in the GYE grizzly bear population. The USFWS moves forward with a delisting rule.


USFWS proposed to remove grizzly bears from the threatened list.


The Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan is revised with new standards for estimating populations and mortality limits.


The delisting rule is drafted and published. Bears are delisted March 22 and Wyoming assumes management authority for the first time since being listed.


The delisting rule is challenged with several lawsuits based on four “issues”: The Conservation Strategy is not enforceable Inadequate regulatory mechanisms Impacts of the decline of whitebark pine were not sufficiently examined source Concerns over genetic connectivity


Bears are relisted in September and two criteria are upheld: The Conservation Strategy and state plans are inadequate. The loss of whitebark pine as a food source was not adequately considered


USFWS and the Department of Justice appeal the relisting to the 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco, arguing the judge did not consider information on the whitebark pine provided in a USFWS legal briefing, and should have “deferred to the opinion of federal experts to interpret biology.


9th Circuit Court rules on three of the four criteria. Whitebark pine decline must be further considered, but says the regulatory mechanisms are adequate.


The Food Synthesis Report from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee demonstrates that whitebark pine decline had no significant impact on the grizzly bear population. That report is delivered to USFWS.


USFWS moves forward with proposed delisting rule.


Wyoming Game and Fish updates their Grizzly Bear Management Plan and holds multiple public forums to gather insight into how Wyomingites want grizzly bear management to proceed within the state. The Conservation Strategy is also updated with the most recent recovery criteria and population demographic information.


USFWS establishes a new population threshold for 600 bears and a management objective of 674. Bears are delisted and Wyoming assumes management authority for the second time.


Wyoming plans a conservative grizzly bear hunt. A United States District Judge in Montana ruled in favor of the Crow Indian Tribe, other tribes and environmental groups halting the hunt. The judge ruled bears must be relisted based on three considerations: Impact on ecosystems Connectivity Methods of population estimates The USFWS relisting is appealed.


The Federal Department of Interior; the states of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and advocacy organizations file to the Federal Court of Appeals to delist the grizzly bear.


A federal appeals court in San Francisco upheld the Montana district court’s opinion that the bears living in the GYE will remain listed as threatened, stating long-term genetic effects on other grizzly bear populations across the country and the need to study the population further.


USFWS initiates a 5-year status review of grizzly bears in the conterminous United States under the Endangered Species Act. A 5-year status review is based on the best scientific and commercial data available at the time; the last review of the species was in 2011.