Connecting Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem grizzlies – they are now approximately 60 miles apart – would mean Yellowstone bears no longer are isolated and we are one step closer to a large, connected Northern Rockies bear population.
Much of our work to reduce conflicts and protect habitat directly improves the ability of grizzly bears to safely navigate the landscape and expand into new areas.
As we learn more about where bears are most likely to connect between the two populations and where they struggle to move within Greater Yellowstone, we are targeting important measures such as highway crossing structures, strategic wildlife friendly fencing, and management policies that protect zones of connectivity.
Wildlife Crossings on Greater Yellowstone's Highways
- Working with the Wyoming Department of Transportation and other partners, GYC is leading an effort to construct up to six wildlife crossing structures around Jackson Hole starting in 2017.
- We envision an effective local campaign to raise funds and build support for this important effort to make the landscape more permeable to bears and other wildlife.
- Longer term, we must better understand where grizzly bears are bridging the gap between the two separated Northern Rockies’ populations and work toward constructing highway crossings on I-90 and/or I-15.
Effective Management Policies
- Policies that promote natural connectivity between Greater Yellowstone and the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem are essential to our success.
- Regardless of the legal status of Yellowstone’s grizzly bears, state and federal management policies have the potential to either help or hinder the eventual connection with bears to the northwest.
- Our goal of natural connectivity means we must resist reliance on human-assisted techniques to connect the two populations and ensure the right policies are in place to promote natural connectivity. Our advocacy will focus on Montana’s management of bears in the High Divide, specifically regarding future hunting regulations, state led conflict reduction efforts, and improved monitoring and research.