New Report Underscores Importance of Wildlife Migration Corridors
Tuesday, October 11, 2022
A report out today calls on western states to do more to protect wildlife migration corridors.
The migration routes are critical to animals such as pronghorn and mule deer, which travel between their summer habitat in the mountains of Northern Nevada to the surrounding lowlands.
Report co-author Matt Skroch is program director for U.S. Public Lands and Rivers Conservation with the Pew Charitable Trusts.
"These animals migrate into warmer valleys that have less snowpack where they can still access forage and overwinter," said Skroch. "If they can't journey along these migration routes, in many cases, the populations decline."
He added that wildlife supports tens of thousands of jobs in the multibillion-dollar outdoor recreation industry throughout the West.
Last year Gov. Steve Sisolak issued an executive order requiring the Nevada Department of Wildlife to create a Wildlife Corridor Connectivity Plan and work with the Department of Transportation to incorporate wildlife concerns as the agency builds and repairs roads.
Christi Cabrera-Georgeson, deputy director of the Nevada Conservation League, noted that five thousand animals die each year in wildlife-vehicle collisions in Nevada.
"According to the Department of Transportation, there have been more than 500 reported wildlife-vehicle collisions each year," said Cabrera-Georgeson. "That costs the state about $20 million annually. So this just shows why we really need to be taking action."
The new bipartisan infrastructure bill provides $350 million over the next five years to construct more wildlife bridges and underpasses to allow animals to migrate freely.
Madeleine West, director of the Public Lands Center for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said the state can make good use of the funds.
"It's voluntary fence removal," said West, "and providing incentives to private landowners to retrofit fences so that animals don't get trapped, or building wildlife crossings."
The report also encourages more cooperation between city, county, state, tribal and federal authorities to ensure that new developments, industry and solar arrays do not interfere with wildlife migration.
Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.
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