WILDLIFE – A conservation group has bought 71 acres in the Yaak Mountains in northwestern Montana near Troy with the goal of improving migration corridors for grizzly bears and other wildlife in the region.
The Missoula-based Vital Ground Foundation bought the land this month from a private landowner, according to the Missoulian.
“We chose this location because much of the adjacent property is on Forest Service holdings, so we were building on a conservation holding to begin with,” said Ryan Lutey, director of lands for the foundation.
The parcel is in the 2,600-square-mile Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone that also includes northern Idaho. Lutey said the purchased land offers low-elevation habitat for wildlife along the Kootenai River and is ideal winter range for deer, elk and moose.
“It has tremendous wildlife values and scenic values,” Lutey said.
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He said the group plans restoration work on the property that involves removing dilapidated buildings and fighting noxious weeds. He said the total cost of the project, including buying the land, transactions fees, restoration work, and setting aside a stewardship endowment for future costs such as taxes, is $440,000.
The Cabinet-Yaak and Selkirk Grizzly Bear Recovery Zones in northwest Montana and northern Idaho are home to an estimated 70 grizzlies, the nation’s smallest population of the bears. Experts say keeping wildlife corridors available for grizzlies is vital for their genetic diversity.