Lesson 11.3: Social Studies Connection

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Grizzlies Take A Stand

Grizzly bears are considered one of the great symbols of the American wilderness. When explorers Lewis and Clark traveled west in the early 1800s, they found a healthy grizzly-bear population.

At the time, about 50,000 grizzly bears roamed the West. But as pioneers moved westward, the number of grizzly bears began to shrink. Illegal hunting, trapping, and habitat loss were to blame for the bears' disappearance. A habitat is the place in nature where an animal makes its home.

Hope for the Future

Today, there are only 800 to 1,000 grizzlies remaining in the lower 48 states, but there is hope for these creatures. About 550 of the grizzlies live in and around Yellowstone National Park in the states of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. That is almost double the number of bears that lived there in the 1980s.

Thanks to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the grizzly is making a comeback. Congress passed that act to protect animals that were in danger of becoming extinct.

Back from the Brink

Wildlife officials hope to remove grizzly bears in the Yellowstone National Park area from the endangered species list within the next year. Steven Williams, the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has said that the change is “a tribute to the American people's commitment to wildlife [protection].”

Think about why it is important to protect endangered animals. Scientists have worked to help bring grizzlies back from the brink of extinction. They set the animals free in their original habitats. They also plan to limit the number of roads in areas where grizzlies live. That action will give grizzlies more room to roam and will help make life more “bearable” for them!

Word Wise

symbol:
Something that stands for something else. The American flag is a symbol of our country.

roam:
Wander: We let the puppy out to roam around the backyard.

illegal:
Against the law: It is illegal to cross the street when the light is red.

creature:
An animal: Children come to feed the creatures at the petting zoo.

extinct:
No longer living: The passenger pigeon is an extinct bird species.

brink:
Edge, such as a cliff; verge of something: The movie was so funny that it kept us on the brink of laughter.

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Activity

Scientists say that that there are more than 30 million plant and animal species on Earth today. Many of these will soon be gone forever. Their living conditions have gotten worse. Much of their food supply is no longer available.

You know what the word extinct means. Scientists use this word and two others when they talk about what may happen to some species in the future. Work with a partner. Find out how scientists define the meanings of these words:

  1. extinct
  2. endangered
  3. threatened

You may use a dictionary or science textbook to complete the activity.

Data Hunt

You have read that about 550 grizzlies live in and around Yellowstone National Park. This area in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana is part of the Rocky Mountain range.

The Rocky Mountains extend north of Yellowstone up through Canada. Some of the Canadian national parks are good places for grizzlies. The table shows estimates of the number of grizzlies that live in three of these parks.

GRIZZLIES IN CANADIAN NATIONAL PARKS
National Park Number of Bears
Banff between 55 and 85
Jasper between 100 and 120
Yoho and Glacier between 86 and 133

The numbers of bears are given as a range between two numbers.

Suppose that the lower number in each range is closer to the actual number of bears in the park.

  1. About how many bears would be in the three parks altogether?
  2. What would be the average number of bears in the three parks?

Suppose that the higher number in the range is closer to the actual number of bears in the park.

  1. About how many bears would be in the three parks altogether?
  2. What would be the average number of bears in the three parks?