Scientists discussed new discoveries about big game migrations this week at a conference at the University of Wyoming. The forum—called “Sustaining Big Game Migrations in the West”-- brought together experts to discuss how to protect migration routes without hurting the state’s economy.
Wyoming Migration Initiative Director Matt Kauffman says such a forum is important right now because new science shows migrating animals are easily affected by development.
“When a migrating animal runs into a development or human activity, what we’re finding is that they speed up, they stop over less to feed, and, in some cases, they detour around developed portions of their route. You know, that’s new information. We need more work on that,” he says.
Kauffman says the Wyoming Game and Fish are using this data to develop proposed policies to better protect the state’s migration routes, which are some of the longest and most intact in the world.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior Jim Lyon complimented Wyoming on tackling the issue early.
“The first step is trying to understand where these corridors are and to be able to map them and help people understand how important they are,” he says. “Where conflicts already exist, we’re going to have to do our best to minimize those and make adjustments as we can. But the real value is doing that work ahead of time.”
The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission tentatively plans to vote on the proposed policies at their January meeting.