CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wildlife migration corridors that preserve routes used by big game herds in Wyoming must be conserved under a new executive order by the governor.
The order preserves protections for three existing mule deer corridors in Sublette, Baggs and Platte Valley and provides guidelines for designating additional routes, the Casper Star-Tribune reported Thursday.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department would identify a potential migration corridor based on scientific data before conducting an in-depth evaluation and risk assessment under the order, officials said. After public comment, identified routes would be sent to the governor for consideration.
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The designation of migration corridors throughout the state can help determine the environmental impact of projects that were previously delayed, including those by landowners and drilling companies, Republican Gov. Mark Gordon said.
The Petroleum Association of Wyoming said it appreciates that the governor engaged its members in the process.
“We look forward to a thoughtful implementation that recognizes the need for balance and avoids further regulatory creep at a time when the state needs oil and natural gas revenues more than ever,” the group said.
Migration corridors in southwest Wyoming have served as vital routes for hoofed mammals such as mule deer, pronghorn and elk. The loss of critical habitat including these corridors have contributed in part to population decline for some species.
The order comes after Gordon convened an advisory group last year to collect recommendations for the order. Those recommendations helped form the draft order in December, which was released Thursday, officials said.