Connectivity, Linkage Zones, and Suitable Habitat
The grizzly bears of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are an isolated population. While connectivity to other populations of grizzlies to the north and west has always been viewed as a biological necessity for the health of the population, it has proven to be a difficult goal to achieve.
So, federal grizzly bear managers simply decided to ignore connectivity and created an alternative plan to truck a grizzly in from another population once every decade or so.
We believe that connectivity of the GYE population to at least one other grizzly population must be achieved prior to delisting.
Connectivity and linkage zones remain an issue as the resumption of hunting after delisting will significantly reduce the likelihood of linkage between the various populations leaving the GYE population isolated with resulting risk of genetic issues such as inbreeding depression.
Well defined and biologically suitable linkage zones designed to connect grizzly habitat should be a prerequisite of delisting. Wildlife crossing structures need to be utilized, especially along the interstate highway system to the north and west of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. To neglect this core need of the isolated GYA population is irresponsible. Other wildlife would also benefit and contribute to a healthier, more diverse ecosystem. Human encroachment and habitat fragmentation associated with roads have long been widely recognized impediments to recovery. Reduction in vehicle vs wildlife incidents would provide financial and safety benefits to man, and reduce vehicular deaths of wildlife.
The USFWS has designated vast areas as Suitable Grizzly Habitat.