Sec Zinke Signs Order to Promote Conservation of Western Big-Game Winter Range & Migration Corridors

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke signed Secretarial Order 3362, which promotes collaboration between the Department of the Interior and western state fish and wildlife agencies for the conservation of big-game winter range and migration corridors.

Order 3362 fosters collaboration among states, private landowners, and other stakeholders to use the best available science for development of management guidelines that ensure big game populations, including antelope, elk, and mule deer, thrive.

In a Department of the Interior statement, Secretary Zinke stated, "My goal is healthy herds for American hunters and wildlife watchers, and this order will help establish better migration corridors for some of North America's most iconic big game species like elk, mule deer and antelope. American hunters are the backbone of big game conservation efforts, and now working with state and private landowners, the Department will leverage its land management and scientific expertise to both study the migration habits of wildlife as well as identify ways to improve the habitat. For example, this can be done by working with ranchers to modify their fences, working with states to collaborate on sage brush restoration, or working with scientists to better understand migration routes."

Specifically, Secretarial Order 3362 directs the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service to:

  • Collaborate with state, tribal, and territorial fish and wildlife agencies to attain or sustain state, tribal, and territorial wildlife population goals during the Department’s land management planning and implementation, including prioritizing active habitat management projects and funding that contributes to achieving wildlife population objectives, particularly for wildlife that is hunted or fished, and identifying additional ways to include or delegate to states habitat management work on federal lands;
  • Work cooperatively with state, tribal, and territorial wildlife agencies to enhance state, tribe, and territorial access to the Department’s lands for wildlife management actions;
  • Within 180 days, develop a proposed categorical exclusion for proposed projects that utilize common practices solely intended to enhance or restore habitat for species such as sage grouse and/or mule deer; and
  • Review and use the best available science to inform development of specific guidelines for the Department’s lands and waters related to planning and developing energy, transmission, or other relevant projects to avoid or minimize potential negative impacts on wildlife.

“Developing a strategy that recognizes the impacts human activity can have on migration corridors, stopover areas and winter range is critical to ensuring the future of deer, antelope, elk and hunting opportunity throughout the West,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Federal Land Policy Director Andy Treharne upon issuance of the order. “As state fish and wildlife agencies and sportsmen work to conserve these landscapes, it’s great to see that they have a partner in Secretary Zinke and the Department of the Interior.”

This Order will assist state wildlife management in Western states including: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

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