Why are bears beneficial to our community?

JACKSON, Wyo. — Bears are an integral element of a wild, undeveloped landscape and a balanced, thriving ecosystem. The reasons that we love the West so deeply — plentiful wildlife, lush forests, clean air, pristine water — are the same things that bears require to survive. They’re a part of the neverending and intricately-balanced system, and protecting them serves not only their species, but countless others.

Within the multi-faceted network of plant, animal and insect species that are native to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, bears play a variety of roles. In addition to breaking down organic matter — from logs they tear apart when hunting insects, to consuming carcasses of prey animals — bears distribute a massive variety of seeds and help maintain other species through predation.

Known as an “indicator species,” bears serve as a thermometer of ecosystem health. Bears require a variety of habitats and species surrounding them; if bears are healthy, that indicates the overall health of an ecosystem. Managing for the health of bear populations, then, is inherently managing for the best interests of countless other species — including humans.