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Grizzly Bear Hotspots: Is Your State on This List?

Grizzly strolling through a small town. Image generated by AATG using Midjourney

Many states contain grizzly bears – a true symbol of the wild. These powerful creatures roam forests and mountains.


Grizzly Bear. Image by Simon Hurry via Pexels.

Here we look at the top states where grizzly bears are most abundant. Each of these states offers a glimpse into the bear’s natural habitat. But first, where did they live, but don’t anymore?

Extirpated States

Muzzle wild grizzly bear close up. Image via Depositphotos

Grizzly bears are considered extirpated (eradicated) in several states across the USA. There is evidence to suggest they may have roamed these states previously, but there are no confirmed populations in these states:

  • Colorado
  • Utah
  • Nevada
  • Oregon

About Grizzly Bears

brown bear
Brown bear standing on a log. Image via Depositphotos

Grizzly bears (Ursus arctos), also known as brown bears, are large, powerful mammals found primarily in North America. Known for their distinctive hump and brown fur, they inhabit diverse ecosystems, from forests to alpine meadows. Grizzlies play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of their environments.

5. Washington

Grizzly bear in Alaska.
Grizzly bear in America. By Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith – Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos ssp.), CC BY-SA 2.0,

Washington State has a modest number of grizzlies. Most of them are found in the North Cascades, where dense forests provide shelter and ample food.

4. Idaho

This Grizzly or Brown Bear views down the trail in this local zoo exhibit. Late evening summer hours for members help find the animals more active, and the sunset in the background tells the time of day. Image via Depositphotos

Idaho’s wild regions are perfect for grizzlies. The bears here are mainly in the central part of the state, particularly around the Salmon River and Bitterroot Mountains.

3. Wyoming

A portrait of a wild grizzly bear.
A portrait of a wild grizzly bear. By Jean Beaufort. Image via, CC0,

Wyoming with its vast wilderness, hosts a good number of grizzlies. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is a key area, offering a pristine environment for the bears.

2. Montana

A closeup of a grizzly bear with an open mouth standing in a park. Photo by wirestock_creators via Depositphotos

Montana is famous for its grizzly population. The bears are spread across the state, from Glacier National Park to the Bob Marshall Wilderness. There are an estimated 2000.

1. Alaska

Grizzly bear in typical landscape of tundra in Denali NP, Alaska, US.
Image by roussien via Depositphotos

Alaska tops the list with the most grizzly bears. Its vast wilderness areas, like Denali and Katmai National Parks, provide perfect habitats. Here, the bears live as they have for centuries, undisturbed and wild. There are an estimated 30 000.

Overall Snapshot

grizzly bear
Image via Pexels

Alaska: 30,000
Montana: 2,000
Wyoming: 600
Washington: 500
Idaho: 100

These numbers from 2024 consensus came from World Population Review.

Back In The Day

Grizzly Bear in Canada
Grizzly Bear in Canada, Image via Pixabay

There used to be a lot more grizzlies roaming the states. The lower 47 states used to each have populations. Now we are hanging on to 5 states and trying to grow their populations once more.

Conservation Status

brown bear
Brown/Grizzly bear. Image via Depositphotos

Grizzly bears are classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This classification reflects the species’ broad distribution and large overall population. However, the status varies by region, with some populations facing more significant threats and requiring focused conservation efforts​.

Conservation Efforts

Bear walking in a forest
Brown bear in a forest. Charles J Sharp, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Efforts to conserve grizzly bears include habitat protection, public education campaigns, and the implementation of bear management plans. Many states and federal agencies work together to monitor bear populations, mitigate human-bear conflicts, and promote coexistence. For example, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has seen significant recovery efforts, resulting in a stable and growing grizzly bear population​.

Wrapping Up

Grizzly Bear
Image via Unsplash

Grizzly bears are an important part of America’s natural heritage. These states provide the best habitats for the bears, ensuring they continue to thrive. Whether you are a nature enthusiast or simply curious, these states offer a chance to see grizzlies in their natural environments.


grizzly bear
Image via Pexels

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