Saturday, August 4, 2012

The grizzly bear - 55,000 of them and seven billion of us

 I watched this mother and cub in Yellowstone National Park. I thought myself fortunate to observe them in their natural habitat and because it’s a rare thing. I was mesmerized to see the play and evident affection between them. I was at a respectable distance and kept that distance, as I did not want to disturb their solitude.

I watched for about ten minutes and I quietly moved on when the mom and cub moved on. He was small and looked to be a cub of the year, which is a cub born that spring.

 Seven billion of us inhabit the Earth along with 55,000 grizzly bears. And in the continental U.S., there are 1,200 of them and 330 million of us. In Yellowstone National Park there are 550 of them.

There are six recovery areas in the U.S. for the grizzly including Yellowstone National Park. The population is precarious as smaller populations of species are at a higher risk for extinction. And while there are other populations of grizzlies in Alaska and Canada, the total global population of 55,000 is not a whole lot.

Seven billion of us, fifty-five thousand of them – a little more than what Yankee Stadium holds.

They are listed as threatened. They are legally hunted.

 I wonder what the future holds for this little guy. Will his species survive as our species grows? Will the small pockets of grizzlies be able to stand against threats to their survival such as continued habitat loss, a virus outbreak, shortages of food sources, and a number of other factors that would further reduce their numbers and lead to extinction.

Is there room on the Earth for the grizzly bear and us? I hope there is and I hope my species has the wisdom to let them survive. But, the truth is, we won't decide, nature will, just as it will decide the fate of our own species.

Brooks Falls Brown Bears, Katmai National Park, Alaska 

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