The man who has been responsible for supervising the effort that has brought the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis),a North American subspecies of the brown bear (Ursus arctos),back from the brink of extinction in the lower 48 states to the point of being considered for delisting from Endangered Species Act protection,Dr.Christopher Servheen,65,has retired from his US Fish & Wildlife Service position.Known as "Dr.Bear" and working from his office at the University of Montana,Chris Servheen was Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator from 1981 to the present.Today,he says,the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide Ecosystems' grizzly populations have recovered.The total number of grizzlies in the lower 48 is about 2,000.*
We've come a long way,Dr.Servheen told Monatana Public Radio.We have three times as many bears today as when I started,and they occupy more than twice the range that they lived in when I started.It's been healthy for some time in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem -a complex of lands including Yellowstone National Park and National Forests-where there were as few as 176 in 1975,to over 700 today;and where grizzly bears today occupy more habitat than Vermont,New Hampshire and Rhode Island combined.
I've put in my 35 years and I've done my best,Dr.Servheen said.In the course of his long career,the PhD in wildlife biology has been praised by some and excoriated by others;but now he has his eyes set on fishing and hiking the backcountry of the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wilderness Areas to view bears with his two sons.*
Dr.Servheen's associate at USFWS,Ed Casworm,will serve as Acting Coordinator until a permanent replacement is found.