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Hunters Hail Wyoming Governor's Move To Protect Game Migration Corridors

A doe and fawn in a field of tall grass.

Hunting groups are praising Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon for his work to protect the state's iconic migration corridors for mule deer and pronghorn antelope.

The governor has released a draft executive order to key stakeholders, and Joy Bannon with the Wyoming Wildlife Federation said the move positions Wyoming as a national leader in balancing the needs of wildlife and development.

"You know, here in Wyoming, we value our wildlife and our big game species,” Bannon said. “These migration corridors allow these big game to survive and thrive. They're arteries of life, and how we manage them as a state is very important."

Migration routes, largely in southwestern Wyoming, allow a host of species to move between winter habitat and areas with enough cover and food to give birth in spring. 

Bannon said she hopes the final draft will also include protections for bighorn sheep, whitetail deer, elk and moose. The debate on how the state's migration corridors should be managed had frequently been heated in past efforts, with extraction industries and conservation groups unable to reach middle ground.

Bannon said an advisory group created by the governor was key to forging consensus among stakeholders, and allowed ranchers and farmers, members of the sporting community, and representatives from oil, gas and mining industries to sit at the same table.

"And really talk, thoroughly, and hear the science and hear the perspectives about how to move forward with this big issue,” Bannon said. “Because we do all care, there is a desire to maintain the functionality of these big-game migration corridors."

The order's recommendations, to be overseen by Wyoming Game and Fish, include tapping new technologies to extract oil and gas without building above ground in high-traffic corridors; avoiding development and disturbances in the most crucial winter ranges; and prioritizing development in areas considered to be unsuitable wildlife habitat.