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BLM boosts efforts to protect wildlife corridors in drought-stricken West

A pronghorn runs through a mostly brown open plain in New Mexico. To the left of it is a barbed wire fence.
Larry Lamsa
Flickr Creative Commons
A pronghorn runs through an open plain in Cimarron, New Mexico. In recent years, pronghorn populations in New Mexico have decreased due to fences limiting their access.

A new federal policy aims to protect fish and wildlife migration routes on public lands across the Mountain West and the rest of the U.S.

The Bureau of Land Management on Nov. 15 called for its state offices to work with state wildlife agencies and tribes to preserve and improve habitat connectivity – the ability of fish and wildlife to move freely across landscapes and seasonal ranges.

The agency says this guidance will translate to activities like removing unnecessary fencing and other barriers, installing signs to prevent vehicle-wildlife collisions, and pursuing landscape restoration projects.

Russell Kuhlman, executive director of the Nevada Wildlife Federation, said this kind of work is increasingly urgent across the drought-stricken West.

“Due to our changing climate, to increased human development, it’s more important than ever to make sure that the wildlife on our landscapes, especially in Nevada, are able to migrate from food source to food source,” Kuhlman said.

He added that an important piece of enhancing habitat connectivity will be working to restore the plants that animals feed on across Western lands scorched by high-intensity wildfires.

The BLM says its new policy builds on existing efforts across the Interior Department, other federal agencies and among states, tribes and conservation groups, including executive orders on wildlife migration issued in Nevada, Colorado and Wyoming.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The photo included in this story is licensed under Flickr Creative Commons.

Kaleb is an award-winning journalist and KUNR’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter. His reporting covers issues related to the environment, wildlife and water in Nevada and the region.
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