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Poll: New Mexicans Want Wildlife Corridors Protected

New Mexico is developing a study to identify areas where wildlife crossing roadways are consistently hit by motorists. (
New Mexico is developing a study to identify areas where wildlife crossing roadways are consistently hit by motorists. (
April 23, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An overwhelming majority of residents in New Mexico and Colorado say protecting wildlife-migration corridors is very important, according to a new poll by the National Wildlife Federation.

In March, 400 likely voters in each state were asked a series of questions about the issue. Pollster Dave Walker said wildlife-corridor protection was not only bipartisan, but both younger and older residents supported safe migration - and even those employed in agriculture and the petroleum industry gave an overwhelming thumbs-up.

"Seventy-seven percent support protecting migration-corridors in rural parts of these two states, and 87 percent non-rural,” Walker said. “So it really is just a broad agreement."

Earlier this month, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Wildlife Corridors Act, a law requiring that state agencies work together to identify existing highways that pose the greatest risk for drivers and wildlife such as elk, antelope, bighorn sheep and mule deer.

Tracy Stone-Manning, associate vice president for public lands at the National Wildlife Federation, said poll results show residents of New Mexico and Colorado understand wildlife species depend on movement for better food and water.

"Animals need to move; they need to move from summer range to winter range. And when they move, they tend to use the same routes over and over, taught through generations,” Stone-Manning said. “So it's our obligation to ensure that they can continue to use those routes."

Among those polled, 45 percent rated protection of wildlife corridors urgent, and 1-in-5 voters rated it extremely urgent. Walker said Westerners seem to realize it's an issue that doesn't take generations to solve.

"People in these states define what it means to be a Coloradan or to be a New Mexican in part by the wildlife that share the land that they live on,” Walker said. “It's almost inconceivable for people in these two states to think about life in those states without this wildlife."

Without protections, wildlife migration routes could be impeded by development, highways and fencing as the population of Western states continues to grow.

Disclosure: National Wildlife Federation contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Energy Policy, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness, Salmon Recovery, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM