Industry Groups' Letter Slows Approval Of Migration Corridors

Apr 18, 2019

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission has proposed migration corridors in western Wyoming, one for mule deer and another for pronghorn. The hope is to help overcome some of their challenges, such as fencing along the routes.
Credit Joe Riis

Wyoming is leading the trend on protecting wildlife migration routes across the region, but the state's latest move to add two more migration routes is being held up by a letter from a coalition of industries, including oil and gas, mining and livestock interests. Jim Magagna is with the Wyoming Stock Growers Association.

"We became concerned," he said, "not necessarily with the designation, but with the lack of a clear path forward after they designate it."

He said there's a lot of confusion about how migration routes are designated.

"Three deer use a route and one of them happens to be collared, that becomes a migration corridor," said Magagna. "I'm not sure that's the factual situation but I certainly need to better understand what are the criteria for saying, 'this isn't just a place some animals move but it's clearly a migration corridor.'"

Wyoming Game and Fish Department has agreed to slow the approval process down in order to hear those concerns. But Linda Baker said there was plenty of time to hear those concerns during public meetings held around the state. Baker is with a local conservation group, the Upper Green River Alliance, and said the key issue here is keeping migrating wildlife healthy.

"These migration corridors are thousands and thousands of years old. Once the migration corridors are lost, they may never be recovered."

Baker said these are long, narrow corridors and that means they have little impact on grazing or mineral leases.


This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.