The spectacled bear of the Andes has seen its numbers depleted from hunting, trapping and loss of habitat. Its survival rests on enforcement of game codes and protection in large national parks and reserves. The Baluchistan bear is endangered. It is believed to be confined to a relatively small pocket of south-central Baluchistan, but may also occur in south-east Iran. Its former range and numbers have declined drastically since the 1930's as a result of hunting, because of its depredations on crops and domesticated stock. The bear has no legal protection. The Mexican grizzly bear is possibly extinct; a remnant group, supposedly of Mexican grizzly bears, may still exist on a cattle ranch in the upper Yaqui Basin of Sonora. The animal was apparently exterminated in the Sierra del Nido in the early 1960's by hunting and poisoning. It is legally protected but protection has not been enforced. The barren-ground grizzly bear of the Canadian tundra, a rare subspecies of the grizzly bear, is at risk from illegal killing. In Europe, the killing of bears along the Pyrenees was banned only in the 1970's. Biologists are of the view that the dozen or so surviving bears have become to few to breed successfully and will disappear unless replacement stocks are introduced. This threatened population of European brown bears, one of the few remaining, in 1993 became the focus of opposition to a new truck route linking France and Spain. The proposed road would pass through the Aspe Valley and divide the bear's habitat, assuring its extinction.
The immediate threat to the giant panda is not man but nature. In their high-altitude retreats in the remote regions of central China, giant pandas survive almost entirely on bamboo, which comprises 99.9% of their diet. Unfortunately, a staple of their diet, the arrow bamboo, is now undergoing one of its periodic blossomings. When this happens, once every 45 or 50 years, a whole mountainside of bamboo may erupt in flowers, scatter seeds and then perish. The bamboo will regrow in a few years to sufficient size (perhaps 3 ft high) to provide fresh food for the pandas. Meanwhile, they must find other food. In 1975-76 a similar flower-and-die disaster led to the deaths by starvation of 138 animals in a panda habitat on the border of Sichuan and Gansu provinces. There are only a thousand or so giant pandas still found in the wild.