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Sportsmen: Sage-Grouse Plans Bolster Conservation of Big Game Habitat

Hunters, Anglers See Alignment Between Migration Corridor Efforts & Existing Sage Grouse Plans

Denver, CO – Hunters and anglers who support the Interior Department’s goal of conserving and improving big game habitat and migration corridors say the existing sage-grouse plans can be a useful tool because the bird and herds share so much of the same land.

The National Wildlife Federation sent a letter today to Interior Secretary Zinke. saying the organization is committed to working with Interior, the states and private landowners to make Secretarial Order 3362 on migration corridors succeed for the sake of all the wildlife that depend on the sagebrush steppe. Using data from state wildlife agencies, NWF produced maps (see links below) showing that about 70 percent of sage-grouse habitat in six Western states is classified as important or crucial for big game – roughly 86 million acres.

“Maintaining crucial migratory routes and winter habitat for elk, mule deer, pronghorns and other big game is a top priority for the National Wildlife Federation and sportsmen and women across the West,” said Aaron Kindle, senior manager of the National Wildlife Federation’s Western sportsmen campaigns. “But we can’t concentrate on the health of big game range and turn a blind eye to greater sage-grouse habitat because over a majority of the region, they’re one and the same.”

“Most hunters realize that the elk or mule deer we see at high elevations in the summer are usually the same animals moving through sagebrush lands in the winter. We understand how essential the sagebrush steppe is to big game and that they need to be able to move freely across the landscape from summer to winter range,” said Dwayne Meadows, executive director of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation. “The reasonable protections in the sage-grouse plans that prioritize drilling and mining outside important habitat will benefit far more than sage-grouse and will help to achieve the secretarial order’s goals.”

Here is the letter from the National Wildlife Federation to Secretary Ryan Zinke.

The state maps on overlapping greater sage-grouse and big game habitat were produced using data from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, state wildlife agencies, the Bureau of Land Management and Esri. Alison Gallensky of Rocky Mountain Wild prepared the maps.

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