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Why did the bear cross the road? It didn’t!

  • Author(s): Gore, James F.
  • Claar, James J.
  • Ruediger, Bill
  • et al.
Abstract

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) was formed in 1983 to promote and facilitate recovery of the threatened grizzly bear. In the lower 48 states the IGBC is a group of high-level administrators that represent the federal and state agencies involved in grizzly bear recovery. Obstacles have been overcome since then. However, the effective passage of significant numbers of grizzly bears across major highways to extend distribution and connect ecosystems has been a problem. Many bear deaths caused by automobiles have been documented. In December 1999, the IGBC decided that wildlife linkage areas are important conservation measures for grizzly bears and for other rare species such as the lynx, wolf, and wolverine. During 2000, state and federal agencies and many nongovernment conservation organizations met to map out and identify major habitat linkage/highway segments in the Northern Rockies. Reports, planning, and other habitat linkage information can be found at the IGBC web site: www.fs.fed.us/r1/wildlife/igbc/ The IGBC is addressing three areas for action. • Public land management. A list of tasks and actions will be prepared for each grizzly bear recovery ecosystem, a multi-interest work group lead by the Forest Service will develop public land recommendations, such as road management, acquisition units, timing of management actions, and other habitat linkage improvements, • Highway/transportation management. A multi-interest work group, lead by transportation specialists from the Forest Service and state departments of transportation will identify specific recommendations for critical segments of highways where wildlife passage problems have been determined. Work would include research and monitoring of wildlife use and crossings, maintenance or effective wildlife cover approaches to crossing structures, and selecting and testing of types of crossing structures. • Private ands/rural communities’ involvement action. In many areas, private land separates highway right of way and public land. People occupying this space need to understand and embrace the need for wildlife habitat connectivity. These work groups would consist of community leaders and private interests with a desire to co-exist with wildlife and promote species habitat connectivity. IGBC discussions revolved around the conservation biology foundations that large areas are better than smaller areas and connected habitats are better than isolated habitats for maintaining wildlife populations. The IGBC will be working toward these goals.

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