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The following was written and submitted by Michele & Rob Irwin of Green River.
Southwest Wyoming anchors the longest known mule deer migration in the world. This region is also central in the nation’s energy development, and current federal “energy dominance” policy has sped up the leasing process. Despite the Interior Department’s recent order to protect these migrations, the BLM has nothing enforceable in place to ensure this happens.
My husband and I live, work and recreate in this area. One of the things we appreciate the most is the opportunity to enjoy free roaming wildlife. We are also aware that while wildlife face numerous challenges, mule deer are especially imperiled.
Strong lease stipulations specific to mule deer are needed for both migration corridors and crucial winter range. The good news is that Wyoming is leading the nation in migration science.
We already know where many corridors, stopovers, bottlenecks, and crucial winter range are located. The BLM can conserve some of the last and most impressive migration routes in the world by protecting only a few areas.
We ask the ask newly elected Governor Mark Gordon and the Game and Fish Department to take the lead by developing best management practices and insisting that the BLM defer leasing in those areas long enough to develop a permanent, science-based solution and get it right.
Wyoming can devise approaches to keep not only the landscape of the corridors intact, but the intergenerational memory of those routes. We’d hate for mule deer to go the way of the buffalo.
Michele & Rob Irwin
Green River, WY