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PNS Daily Newscast - June 22, 2018 


The GOP leadership puts their efforts to fix immigration on hold. Also on the Friday rundown: Florida students take their gun control message to the Midwest; and a call for renewal of the land and water conservation fund.

Daily Newscasts

Sportsmen Concerned New Leases Could Block Herd Migration

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is responsible for managing mule deer, but the agency currently does not have a specific policy on the books for protecting the deer's migration corridor. (BLM)
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is responsible for managing mule deer, but the agency currently does not have a specific policy on the books for protecting the deer's migration corridor. (BLM)
May 29, 2018

ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. – Sportsmen and conservation groups are urging federal land managers to hold off on selling oil and gas leases along the longest known mule deer migration route in the U.S. in southwest Wyoming.

Dwayne Meadows, executive director the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, says the move should only come after the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Rock Springs office issues an updated Green River Resource Management Plan, expected sometime this year. Meadows says the corridor is critical habitat for elk, pronghorn and sage grouse, and for deer migrating from summer to winter ranges.

"Their summer range is high up in the mountains where there's dense forage in the summer, and their winter range is out in the lower flat in the high desert where there's less snow," he explains. "And there's better nourishment for them to get through the winter."

Making good on its promise to achieve energy dominance, the Trump administration's Interior Department is moving forward with plans to sell leases on a total of 700,000 acres within the deer corridor. The agency also recently issued Secretarial Order 3362, a directive to improve big-game habitat along migration routes and winter ranges.

A University of Wyoming study funded by industry found that after year-round intensive development in mule deer winter range near Pinedale, populations declined by 40 percent. Meadows says settling leases based on a 1997 land-management plan could put herds at risk.

"I think we're not including the most up-to-date science," he says. "And so that's what we're asking for is, 'let's just wait a few minutes. We've got about a year and a half left in this plan, and then you can go ahead and consider where you want to lease at that point.'"

Meadows says Wyoming has a tradition of balancing its wealth of natural resources, which includes livestock, oil, gas, and wildlife. He says tourism, the second largest economic sector in the state driven by hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing, deserves a seat at the table in land-management plans.

The BLM is expected to put the oil and gas leases up for sale this December.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY