Grizzly bears once ranged all throughout the western United States and Canada and south into Mexico. In fact, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee estimates that there were about 50,000 bears when Lewis & Clark explored the West. By the time the 1970s rolled around, though, only 600 to 800 grizzlies lived in the Lower 48, and they were confined to areas around Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.
Threats of extinction are far from limited to grizzly bears; wildlife populations are plummeting across the world. In October 2019, the Audubon Society reported that North America has lost one in four bird species in the last 50 years. According to the Earth Day Network, populations of elephants, frogs, primates, and marine mammals are also in rapid decline. In her book The Sixth Extinction, author Elizabeth Colbert writes that more than 99% of all species that have ever lived on Earth are now extinct. "[I]n the light of this," she notes, "it is sometimes joked about that all of life today amounts to little more than a rounding error."
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