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Celebrating UN World Wildlife Day

Celebrating UN World Wildlife Day

Today we’re celebrating UN World Wildlife Day by supporting one of ziggie’s social impact partners, Vital Ground Foundation. Vital Ground’s purpose and mission is an example of why this year’s theme for World Wildlife Day is "Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet." The preservation of forested habitats and the survival of “umbrella species” like the grizzly bear is Vital Ground’s focus.

To learn more about grizzlies and Vital Ground check out the excerpt below and click on the link to read the full story, and don’t forget that you can donate your Impact Dollars to Vital Ground by logging in to your Impact Account or after checkout.

“Where the grizzly can walk, the earth is healthy and whole.”

–Lynne Seus,Vital Ground co-founder and trustee

A land trust for grizzly bears? It might sound like a strange combination, but the truth is this: bears are just the beginning. From wolverines to loons to wildflowers, the whole natural community benefits from grizzly conservation. Why? Meet Ursus arctos, the grizzly bear, the Rocky Mountains’ largest predator and its barometer of healthy and connected landscapes.

The Umbrella Effect

Wherever they roam, grizzly bears are monarchs on the land. From the Yellowstone high country to the coasts of British Columbia and Alaska—where the species is often called the brown bear—grizzlies cast broad impacts over the plant and animal communities with which they share space.

Despite their predatory capability, grizzlies are opportunistic omnivores, not carnivores. In most places, their diet relies significantly on plant foods, as bears dig for roots and browse for berries from spring to fall. Aside from the fish-loving coastal brown bears, the meat grizzlies eat often comes from grubs and moths, or from scavenging animals that died from other causes. When grizzlies kill larger animals for food, they are opportunists, picking off the weakest prey from a group in order to save energy.

However, a grizzly fills its stomach, the process plays a key role in the balance of a natural area. By digging for roots and insects, a bear freshens soil like a rototiller. Its scavenging and digestion of dead animals returns energy quickly to the ground, fertilizing the soil that grows the plants upon which a place’s food web relies. Meanwhile, the presence of grizzlies keeps deer and elk herds on the move, preventing them from lingering in an area so long that they overgraze its shrubs and grasses.

It adds up to a simple biological truth: where grizzly bears walk the land, other plant and animal species are healthier. In scientific terms, this wide-reaching impact makes the grizzly an umbrella species.


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