Katrina, your support makes a difference for people and wildlife
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Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative


March 05, 2024

We're on the right pathway to connect and protect nature in the Yellowstone to Yukon region for good. And it's all thanks to your support, Katrina.

This year, Y2Y is celebrating 30 years. And over the past three decades, people like you have helped us create pathways for positive change in many ways.

These short stories and updates provide a glance at the impact we can have because of your donations and support of our collaborative work.

Thanks for following along with our Connections newsletters. We're so glad you're part of our big Y2Y community. Enjoy!

In this edition of Connections:

Collecting data in space to keep wildlife moving on Earth

It's time to protect the wary wolverine

A crucial wildlife corridor is now secured in Idaho

Uplifting Indigenous-led conservation and protecting more nature

Podcasts and more that we're loving

Lichen's vital role in caribou survival

Wildlife crossings around the world

First light on frosty bison near Soda Butte Creek

Room for wildlife to roam

This NASA-funded initiative is connecting data and people to protect wildlife migrations in the Yellowstone to Yukon region

Y2Y is going to space!

Well, not actually.

But an exciting NASA-funded project in the Yellowstone to Yukon region is ultimately helping give wildlife more space to move, mate and eat. It’s called Room to Roam: Yellowstone to Yukon Wildlife Movements (Room2Roam).

From using satellite imagery to locate caribou on the land, and learning how frequently elk are crossing a highway, scientists and other groups including Y2Y are accessing data more quickly to better understand protected areas and connectivity, animal migration and movement, wildlife management and priority conservation strategies.

In an era where climate change, habitat loss, poaching and other human impacts put many species at risk, there is an increased need to understand where animals go and what they need to thrive.

Room2Roam is helping create pathways for the kind of change needed to tackle these challenges so that the Yellowstone to Yukon region can continue to be the largest, most intact mountain region in the world.

A wolverine perched on a branch
It's time to protect the wary wolverine

Together we're ensuring that we don't lose wolverines from the Yellowstone to Yukon region

Wolverines are captivating carnivores. We think you might agree!

Maybe it’s the rare sightings of this wide-ranging animal that keep us guessing and gushing; or perhaps because they can travel up to 65 kilometers (40 miles) a day and take on a grizzly bear along the way to win a meal. Maybe it’s that they thrive in deep-snow environments high above the tree line.

Despite their "cool factor," wolverines have had a rough time over the past decade. Decreasing snowpack due to climate change, habitat loss, unsustainable trapping, and widespread recreation have put too much pressure on their populations in Canada and the U.S.

Despite the challenges, we have hope. Here's why:

> Y2Y has boosted research and knowledge on how to best protect wolverines — a result of working with partners for close to a decade. In 2023, this included mapping where deep spring snowpack is likely to stay and key wolverine habitat to protect in parts of the central Columbia and Rocky Mountains.

> Wolverines are more likely to get what they need to recover after being listed as threatened in the U.S. in December 2023. With a mere 300 wolverines left in the Lower 48, this is a step forward in overcoming the challenges they face.

> People are becoming responsible recreation champions. Through Y2Y’s Wildlife Wise program, backcountry recreationists and others are learning and sharing ways to give the wary wolverine space.

> Proposed Indigenous-led protected areas in the Yellowstone to Yukon region will protect and steward vast mountain habitat home to wolverine and other at-risk species. Healthy wolverine populations in Canada, when connected and protected, can help support U.S. populations.

Wolverines' need for large landscapes and their vulnerability to climate change (and humans!) mean we must work hard to connect and protect their habitats — which is why your support is so critical.

Want to help wolverines and other amazing wildlife survive and thrive into the future? Now is the time to donate to support this collaborative work.

Meadow landscape with green grass and a blue pond set against a dark tree line and mountains

Good news: Crucial wildlife corridor secured in north Idaho

Your support is helping keep animals moving

With deep cedar groves, serene landscapes and a seasonal creek, 100-Acre Wood in north Idaho is a special place, and not just because of its natural beauty. Grizzly bears rely on the habitat here seasonally for cool refuge from the heat. It also helps connect them to core habitat nearby.

Grizzly bears and numerous other wildlife species will benefit from Y2Y and Vital Ground’s recent purchase of these 98 acres of land. The property may be small but it’s in a critical place for wildlife.

100-Acre Wood further solidifies an open wildlife movement corridor across an important valley through northwest Montana, into the Idaho Panhandle, and then to Canada — further enabling vulnerable grizzly populations in the U.S. to reconnect with populations in Canada.

This protection also dovetails with other collaborative Y2Y projects, including the adjacent Bees to Bears initiative, which restored wildlife habitat along the nearby river.

You are helping our continued efforts to keep wildlife like grizzly bears safe, connected, and thriving. Thank you for setting us out on a hopeful path towards their sustained recovery.

Starr Gauthier, Saulteau First Nations member and caribou guardian, looks out at the caribou maternal pen from an observation deck

Uplifting Indigenous-led conservation

B.C. can connect and protect more nature

We welcomed 2024 feeling optimistic about nature protection in British Columbia (B.C.)

A landmark new nature agreement between the B.C. First Nations Leadership Council and the provincial and federal governments, backed by more than $1 billion in funding, commits B.C. to working in consultation and co-operation with First Nations to nearly double the province's land protection.

B.C. makes up a third of the Yellowstone to Yukon region’s landmass. We welcome this pathway for long-awaited change for people and nature, especially through new Indigenous-led protected areas, which will safeguard and steward vast amounts of biodiversity.

Now, we’re helping ensure this commitment results in action — and that lands, waters and wildlife aren't degraded while we wait for the agreement to be implemented.

"The nature agreement unlocked a hopeful way forward to halt the loss of iconic species and protect nature in partnership with Indigenous governments," says Tim Burkhart, Y2Y's director of landscape protection. "Now, the Province needs to follow this commitment with trust and flexibility to center and uplift Indigenous leadership."

Y2Y is working with more than a dozen Indigenous partners to build strategies and support for Indigenous-led conservation proposals and declarations in northern B.C. Thanks to your letters of support and donations, you have already made a big difference!

This is shaping up to be a transformative year for the most biodiverse part of the Yellowstone to Yukon region, and we’ll need your help.

Sign up for Y2Y's action alerts below to continue advocating for nature.

Bookmarked: Videos, podcasts and more that we're loving

🎥 Short film: Setting a strong course on a shared future in southwest Alberta — Communities in southwestern Alberta are forging a new path for a sustainable future. In a new video from Y2Y, discover the faces of change behind community-led projects that celebrate the unique wildlife and landscapes that make southwest Alberta home. Watch now >>

🦌 Wildlife footage: The life of a caribou — Get an intimate view into the lives of 30 radio-collared caribou in the Fortymile Caribou Herd. This important data helped inform a 2021 research paper led by Dr. Libby Ehlers, now Y2Y's director of conservation science, that has helped conserve this herd. Watch now >>

▶️ Video: The impacts of transportation on wildlife — The Canadian Conservation Photographers Collective’s 'Crossing Paths' campaign highlights the challenges wildlife face as they try to get around. Experts, including some Y2Y works with, share their perspectives on solutions for connected habitats. Watch now >>

🎙️Podcast: The nature-climate nexus feat. Harvey Locke — Why is conservation important for climate change, and where do Canada's forests fit into that? Wildlands League dives into this topic with conservationist Harvey Locke, co-founder of and senior advisor for Y2Y and Nature Needs Half. Listen now >>

A single caribou running

Lichen's vital role in caribou survival

Y2Y’s 2022 Sarah Baker grant recipient researching lichen to help sustain caribou and culture

Lichen is a vital part of many forest ecosystems, helping sustain a healthy and delicate balance between nature and people. For the Saulteau Creek community in northeast British Columbia, lichen also embodies this Indigenous community’s culture and survival.

Reliable lichen sources support healthy caribou populations. Mountain caribou have been intricately linked with the cultural way of life, and have been a staple food source for First Nations in the area for thousands of years.

This interconnection between lichen, caribou, and her community is what brought Carmen Richter, a member of Saulteau First Nations, to her master’s research around creating a plan for sustainable lichen collection.

Through Y2Y’s 2022 Sarah Baker Memorial Fund grant, we’re proud to have supported Carmen’s research. Read more about her work mapping lichen and working with scientists, Indigenous Guardians, Elders and other community members to create space for lichen growth and inform conservation efforts in her community and the broader Yellowstone to Yukon region.

A wintry scene where vehicles are whizzing by underneath a wildlife overpass structure on Highway 1 in Banff National Park, Alberta

Global cause for connection

7 places wildlife crossings build pathways to safety for wildlife and people

A key part of Y2Y’s work is helping wildlife stay connected by removing barriers to their movement — essential to their ability to survive and thrive.

Y2Y advocates for infrastructure to keep wildlife connected. With more than 126 existing wildlife underpasses, overpasses, and fencing, the Yellowstone to Yukon region now has more crossing structures than anywhere else in the world. And it’s thanks to your unwavering support!

Wherever you encounter a wildlife crossing in this mountain region, it’s likely that it’s used daily by wildlife — from herds of elk, grizzly bears and their cubs, to cougars — simultaneously saving thousands of vehicles from colliding with those animals.

Depending on where you’re from, maybe you’ve heard of different kinds of crossings, too: koala rope crossings, turtle and toad tunnels, crab overpasses... you name it, there are all sorts of ways we can make movement easier, and safer, for species!

Through our recent blog post, learn how a growing number of wildlife crossing structures in the Yellowstone to Yukon region are a leading force in the global cause for connection.

More Y2Y news to explore

🤝 Partner projects: A snapshot of some of Y2Y's 2023 partner grantees and their important work

📕Trending research: Exploring and developing the conservation social sciences in the Yellowstone to Yukon region.

🌲Opinion article: Y2Y’s Dr. Jodi Hilty emphasizes the critical opportunity Alberta faces to conserve its landscapes and diverse ecosystems for the benefit of people, nature and the economy

Photo credits — Canada lynx cover photo (Lisa Hupp/USFWS); Bison (NPS/Jacob W. Frank); Wolverine (Douglas Chadwick); Meadow landscape (USFWS); Starr Gauthier, Saulteau First Nations (David Moskowitz); Caribou (Chelsea Arnold/USFWS); Wildlife overpass in Banff (Shutterstock photo)