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Viewpoint: Time to prepare for Bitterroot grizzlies, wildlife crossings

Thanks to Biden’s recent infrastructure bill, $350 million will be allocated to wildlife corridors, the largest investment dedicated to this effort in national history. As grizzly populations expand into the Bitterroot region, taking into account the need for more safe wildlife passageways will be crucial in order to minimize human-bear conflict and mortality.

The infrastructure bill will allow for the construction of more wildlife overpasses, culverts and roadside fences, additions that have proven to significantly decrease roadkill and allow wildlife safe passage between habitat areas.

New infrastructure in the Bitterroot ecosystem could be modeled after the wildlife passages constructed along the stretch of Highway 93 in northeastern Montana as it is recognized as possessing the most wildlife-sensitive design out of any highway in North America.

Wildlife-conscious designs are not only key to enabling the movements of species between habitats, but also decrease the possibility of wildlife-vehicle collisions that can cause anthropogenic mortality or injury as well as millions of dollars in damage.

As grizzlies are reintroduced into the Bitterroot region of Idaho, corridors that facilitate safe movements through landscapes impacted by human infrastructure will need to be planned and implemented if the effort is to be successful.