Top 10 things GYC’s done for grizzlies

We keep bears wild and people safe. No other group in the ecosystem is doing more or spending more money than GYC. Here’s what that means on the ground. In the past year, GYC has:  

1. Bearproofed more than 100 campgrounds in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. We’re keeping people safe and bears wild by partnering with the U.S. Forest Service to install bear-safe bins in all 164 campgrounds in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. We covered 103 campgrounds as of last season. Just a few dozen more to go!

2. Prevented grizzlies from being killed on 200,000 acres of land – an area larger than all of New York City – in Idaho and Wyoming. We helped buy out grazing allotments from willing sellers in the High Divide and in the Wind River and Gros Ventre mountain ranges. These retirements help both wildlife and ranchers – if no cows or sheep graze in the area, grizzlies can’t get in trouble for killing livestock, and grass is left for elk and deer.  

3. Watched grizzly bears feeding on spawning cutthroats in Yellowstone for the first time in decades, thanks to a partnership we’re involved in to control non-native lake trout. Last year was the first year since the population of cutthroat trout were decimated that we saw our work to remove lake trout have an effect, with fewer lake trout and more spawning native cutthroat. This work is critical to protecting grizzly habitat. 

4. Started figuring out where wildlife like bears, moose, elk and other animals are crossing a major highway that cuts through wild forests and mountains south of Jackson, Wyoming, thanks to 10 cameras we and our partners deployed on Highway 89. Wyoming DOT will begin building six underpasses at these spots in 2017.  Studies show crossings can reduce wildlife-vehicle accidents by nearly 90 percent. 

5. Protected nearly 1 million acres of grizzly bear habitat when we convinced the Forest Service to keep drill pads off these lands in the Shoshone National Forest east of Yellowstone.  

6. Kept grizzlies away from livestock in critical connection areas in Montana. Range rider programs in the Centennial Valley (west of the park) and in the Tom Miner Basin (north of the park) keeps cows grouped together, so they’re less vulnerable to a grizzly coming in for a meal. 

7. Helped private landowners pay for electric fence in areas where grizzlies roam outside the parks in Idaho and Montana. This partnership with Defenders of Wildlife matches landowner funds 1:1 to build fences that keep grizzlies out of trouble on private lands.   

8. Hosted workshops with livestock producers in Montana and Wyoming on reducing conflicts between livestock and grizzly bears (and other carnivores, including wolves.) Producers are critical to our conservation work in the one-third of the ecosystem that’s privately owned.   

9. Delayed two foreign companies from exploring for gold north of Yellowstone, protecting the wild country for grizzlies north of the park – for now. Our pressure prompted the Forest Service to make a Canadian gold mining company dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s in its plans for a gold mine north of the park. And the company scrapped its plan to mine on public lands here! Though we’re still working hard to be able to declare this mine dead, in the meantime, this was a great victory for grizzly bears.

10. We’re protecting a critical grizzly trail between Yellowstone and the wild lands in northern Idaho and Montana with our work to shut down domestic sheep grazing on public lands on the Montana-Idaho border. We’re mobilizing our members to tell the USDA, which runs the station, that the station not only wastes millions of taxpayer dollars, but is ground zero for wildlife conflicts that have led to several grizzly bears being killed.

-- GYC staff

Photo Credit: Justin Schwabedissen