Can Washington Bear Some Grizzlies?


The awe-inspiring bears are almost extinct in Washington State, but the government is now studying whether they should be brought back. (Nat Geo News)

Use our resources to learn more about grizzlies and species range.

Teachers, scroll down for a short list of key resources in our “Teachers’ Toolkit.”

Are grizzly bears coming in from the cold in Washington? Possibly. This one is enjoying a frosty but comfortable winter in Yukon Territory, Canada. Photograph by Paul Nicklen, National Geographic
Are grizzly bears coming in from the cold in Washington? Possibly. This one, however, is enjoying the remains of some cold salmon in Yukon Territory, Canada.
Photograph by Paul Nicklen, National Geographic

Discussion Ideas

  • Grizzly bears are “federally protected.” What does this mean?
    • Federally protected species have “recovery plans” to help boost their populations. This usually means land-use restrictions (such as bans on agricultural development or construction) to protect the species’ habitat and limits on hunting to encourage population growth.



  • What is a “species range”? Take a look through our encyclopedic entry for some help.
    • A species range is the area where a particular species can be found during its lifetime. Species range includes areas where individuals or communities may migrate or hibernate.


  • How has the grizzly bear’s species range changed over the centuries? These maps of the current species range and historic species range might help.
    • The grizzly’s range has shrunk dramatically. The bears used to inhabit areas as far south as central Mexico and as far east as the U.S. states of Arkansas and Missouri. Today, they are extinct in Mexico and threatened in the lower 48 states.


  • Where has the grizzly bear’s species range remained intact?


  • The federal government is considering re-introducing grizzly bears to the Cascade Mountains of Washington. Why is the federal government making this decision instead of Washington state or municipal authorities?


  • Who supports re-introducing the bears to the Cascade range?
    • According to Nat Geo News:
      • conservation and environmental organizations
      • many wildlife biologists and
      • many recreationists have voiced support for at least a study to consider re-introducing grizzlies to the North Cascades. (Recreationists are people who regularly enjoy the outdoors—as campers, photographers, hikers, backpackers . . .)




Nat Geo: Should Grizzlies Be Restored to the North Cascades?

Nat Geo: species range

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Grizzly Bear Recovery

Nat Geo: Grizzly range

Wikimedia: Present, Historic, and Post-glacial grizzly range

Nat Geo: Wolves’ Return to the French Alps Not Always Welcome

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