Yellowstone bison. Image: Stephen Legault
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"I BELIEVE in connected landscapes; so connected that my children can walk from one point to another."
Chris Bunting, Y2Y Supporter since 2007

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Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem


The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) includes the world’s first national park, Yellowstone, as well as Grand Teton National Park, the Wind River Range and the Gros Ventre Wilderness. Together, they make up the southernmost range of grizzly bears in North America, a region that is home to large herds of elk, bison and antelope, and several wolf packs.

Value to Yellowstone to Yukon Vision

Coined “America’s greatest idea,” Yellowstone National Park is the birthplace of legislated conservation. Today, it and the lands that make up the GYE comprise an important core region that still to this day provides essential habitat for a host of wildlife populations.

GYE PA Map No Hill


Threats to wildlife health come from both inside and outside the large blocks of protected land that make up the core of the GYE. Every fall, hundreds of hunters converge on Grand Teton National Park to participate in the annual elk cull. Outside Yellowstone Park each winter, hundreds of bison who wander out of the park in search of food are slaughtered by Montana state officials. Most seriously, Yellowstone’s grizzly population is geographically isolated from the remaining bears on the continent, threatening them with inbreeding and possible decline. Wildlife-vehicle collisions and impermeable fencing also pose challenges to wandering wildlife.

Y2Y Goals and Gains

Grizzly and cub. Image: Nicholas Dory
If not reconnected to northern grizzly populations, the Yellowstone grizzly population will die out. Image: Nicholas Dory
Goal: One of Y2Y’s highest priorities is to reconnect Yellowstone’s grizzly population with others in the U.S. and Canada. Facilitating bear movements through the High Divide to the Salmon-Selway-Bitterroot ecosystem is the key to this objective.

Gains: Due to careful management, Yellowstone’s grizzly bear population has grown over the past decades from fewer than 300 to more than 600 individuals. Compelling evidence suggests that Yellowstone grizzlies are moving northward, and northern grizzly populations are making their way south. As of January 2014, northern and southern populations were within a mere 100 miles (160 km) of each other—the closest they have been in over 100 years. Learn more

Also, in 1995 a pack of grey wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park. The reintroduction vastly improved the natural balance of the ecosystem and the wildlife that live there. Learn more

What We Are Working On Now

High Divide – Y2Y is currently working with local partners to improve wildlife movement to neighboring High Divide to secure the reoccupation of grizzly bears in the Salmon-Selway-Bitterroot.

Supporting Co-Existence Programs – Through Y2Y’s partner grants, we support coexistence programs such as Wild Neighborhoods, which helps reduce wildlife attractants from neighborhoods and Wildlife-Friendly Fencing, which modifies existing fences that act as a barrier to wildlife movement.

Help support this work. Donate Now.


Related Information:

Partner Grants
Cabinet-Purcell Mountain Corridor
Crown of the Continent
Our Progress