JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - Protecting a recently discovered mule deer migration corridor in western Wyoming will require cooperation among a host of government agencies and private landowners, wildlife researchers said.
Between 4,000 and 5,000 mule deer travel the 150-mile route twice a year between the Red Desert in southern Wyoming and the Hoback Basin near Jackson in northwestern Wyoming, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported Wednesday (https://tinyurl.com/oopmtou).
The route was discovered three years ago. It includes three to five highway crossings, hundreds of fences, a reservoir, rivers and sand dunes.
One 30-mile section near Pinedale includes land administered by at least two federal agencies, the state and private owners, said Hall Sawyer, a biologist who co-authored a 2014 report on the corridor for the Wyoming Migration Initiative, a project of the state and federal Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.
That patchwork of ownership creates uncertainty over future land use as well as making management of the route more complicated, he said.
“The point here is not to be discouraging,” Sawyer said at a public presentation Tuesday, “but to highlight just how challenging management and conservation of migration routes is in these large multiple-use landscapes.”
The Wyoming Department of Transportation has replaced 50-inch-tall fencing along state Highway 28 to help with the migration, Sawyer said.
Only one wildlife migration route in North America has been recognized and preserved in its entirety, a 100-mile corridor used by the pronghorns in northwestern Wyoming, said Matt Kauffman, a University of Wyoming professor and director of the Wyoming Migration Initiative.
Called the Path of the Pronghorn, the route is used by about 400 pronghorn from the floor of Jackson Hole, through the Gros Ventre Mountains and into the upper Green River valley.
“In terms of planning and protection, this is really the only route on the map,” Kauffman said. “Tonight we’re putting a second route on this map, and that’s one of the goals of the migration initiative.”
On the Web:
Wyoming Migration Initiative: https://migrationinitiative.org/
Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, https://www.jhnewsandguide.com
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