While the brown bear's range has shrunk and it has faced local extinctions, it remains listed as a least concern species by the IUCN with a total population of approximately 200,000. As of 2012, this and the American black bear are the only bear species not classified as threatened by the IUCN. However, the Californian, North African and Mexican subspecies were hunted to extinction in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and many of the southern Asian subspecies are highly endangered. The smallest subspecies the Himalayan brown bear is critically endangered occupying only 2% of its former range and threatened by uncontrolled poaching for its parts. The Marsican brown bear in central Italy is believed to have a population of just 30 to 40 bears.
The brown bear's principal range includes parts of Russia, India, China, Canada, the United States and the Carpathian region The brown bear is recognized as a national and state animal in several European countries. It is the most widely distributed of all bears.