A pair of conservation groups recently purchased land in northwest Montana hoping to help secure a corridor for grizzly bears to travel between two isolated ecosystems: the Cabinet-Yaak in Montana and Selkirk on the border of Idaho and Washington. This comes after a couple of recent sightings of grizzly bears moving on the periphery of both areas.
Chris Servheen is the former grizzly bear recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He says those sightings are a good sign for future connectivity.
"What happens is when these places are purchased there are minimal levels of human development and so no attractants. So bears are going to live if they travel through those areas," said Servheen.
But he said human-bear conflicts can also increase as a result of bears roaming to areas where people are not accustomed to them.
"As these bears expand and move into new habitats they have the potential to come in contact with people not living in a way that they expect to see grizzlies around," he said.
The majority of the land around these areas is public land.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.