Wildlife

In a world where wild, open spaces are rapidly disappearing, Wyoming is unique.

We still have rugged, awe-inspiring public lands to explore. We have vast stretches of undeveloped land where mule deer, elk, and pronghorn migrate freely and where nearly half of the world’s Greater sage-grouse live, and we have rivers and streams that support world-class native trout. The Wyoming Outdoor Council works to ensure the sustainability of wildlife habitat today and far into the future.

MIGRATION CORRIDORS

Elk, mule deer, pronghorn, and dozens of other species need intact habitat to survive. That’s why we advocate for crucial big game winter range and seasonal habitats such as migration corridors and stopover sites. Working with partners, we’re seeking long-term safeguards for the 150-mile Red Desert to Hoback mule deer migration corridor—the world’s longest. We’re also advocating for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to designate and protect other known corridors around the state, and encouraging the governor’s office to issue an executive order halting development in the most crucial habitat.

Since September 2018, we’ve seen a surge of parcels offered in critical mule deer habitat, including in migration corridors and winter range. Many of these parcels have gone for as little as $2 per acre. Time is running out to ensure we don’t lease our most valuable habitat out from under our most vulnerable species.

We must act now to defend this world-renowned corridor and other habitat big game herds rely on for survival. The majority of Wyoming citizens do not support oil and gas leasing inside migration corridors. The fact is, if we care about the future of our mule deer herds, we should not be leasing here today.

The increasing body of science from research in Wyoming shows that mule deer stick to their migration routes more than other big game do, and that they cannot adapt their migration strategy to avoid energy infrastructure and other human disturbance.

And once migrations are disrupted they may never be restored. Once we fragment and develop stopover sites and winter range, we can’t make more of it. If we want to ensure Wyoming’s mule deer herds stay viable well into the future, we need to challenge oil and gas leasing in their most vital habitats now.

Multiple use of our public lands means identifying the highest and best uses on any given acre. It means making informed decisions about where oil and gas development should happen and where it shouldn’t. The science is clear: if we value Wyoming’s mule deer, their migration corridors should not be leased.

Wyomingites need to come together to stand up for our muleys.
Let Governor Gordon know you are concerned. You can email him at governor@wyo.gov.

You can also help by 
joining the Wyoming Outdoor Council now.
Or, if you’re not ready to become a member, sign up for updates and alerts.

TAKE ACTION

SAVE WYOMING MULEYS

In late December 2019, Gov. Mark Gordon released a draft executive order that would dictate how the state designates and manages Wyoming’s big game migration corridors. While the draft is an important first step, changes are needed to ensure it establishes an effective framework for designating habitat. As the governor’s Migration Corridor Advisory Group recommended, the final executive order must also make it clear that infrastructure development shouldn’t be permitted within stopover areas or high-use sections of corridors. We’ve been engaging with the governor’s office to provide input on how the draft can be strengthened. 

Meanwhile, the Wyoming Legislature will continue to consider an anti-wildlife bill during the 2020 budget session despite overwhelming and diverse public comment asking lawmakers not to interfere with migration corridors. This bill, brought forward by the Select Federal Natural Resource Management Committee, would strip the Wyoming Game and Fish Department of the ability to identify and manage migration corridors and place the responsibility of designating habitat in the laps of individuals and agencies who cater to the oil and gas industry.

We’ll need your help to defeat this bill during the 2020 legislative session — stay tuned and read more below. For comments, letters, maps, and fact sheets, see the section at the bottom of this page.

M E D I A —

“On migration corridors, governor attempts to strike balance between energy, environment,” Casper Star-Tribune, Jan. 12, 2020
“Migration corridor debate takes center stage as governor, Legislature wrestle over policy,” Casper Star-Tribune, Oct. 23, 2019
Respect citizen consensus on big game migration management,” Casper Star-Tribune, Oct. 19, 2019
“Deer defenders fight for migration,” Jackson Hole News&Guide, Feb. 22, 2019
“Leasing in migration corridors threatens mule deer and Wyoming’s outdoor heritage” Casper-Star Tribune, Feb. 16, 2019
“Biologists Worry that Future Drilling May Impair Natural Migration Corridors,” KCY13, Feb. 15, 2019
“Game and Fish Forum Discusses Big Game Migration Corridors,” KTWONews, Feb. 13, 2019
“Should energy interests outweigh wildlife?” High Country News, Jan. 17, 2019

GREATER SAGE-GROUSE

Wyoming is the biological and political epicenter of both the historic effort to protect the Greater Sage-grouse and its habitat, and the current effort to defend these conservation measures. With its tens of millions of acres of sagebrush habitat, Wyoming is home to almost 40 percent of the world’s Greater sage-grouse.

Several years ago, Wyoming charted a collaborative and science-based path forward—identifying sage-grouse “core areas” where development would be limited. Neighboring states largely adopted Wyoming’s model, as did the Bureau of Land Management. These actions averted listing of the bird under the Endangered Species Act.

But this presidential administration’s stated priority of “energy dominance”—which has resulted in the BLM fast-tracking leases on public lands, increased drilling in sage-grouse core habitat, and a lack of agency accountability—greatly threatens that habitat, along with the hundreds of species that rely on it. The Outdoor Council is playing a leading role to ensure conservation measures remain in place.

NATIVE TROUT

Much of our work results in sustained or better habitat for fish. From finding solutions to avert 136-gas wells from being drilled at the headwaters of the wild and scenic Hoback River, to working with anglers in Saratoga to address municipal waste in the North Platte, a blue-ribbon fishery, to efforts with Brooks Lake Lodge to clean up its antiquated sewage lagoons to help ensure we never see a repeat of the fish die-off that happened in 2008 downstream, the Outdoor Council is a leading voice for clean water and healthy fisheries.

Today we’re working to ensure proposed oil and gas development in Colorado River cutthroat trout habitat in the South Cottonwood drainage of the Wyoming Range only goes forward with rigorous safeguards.

LATEST BLOGS, NEWS, & ACTIONS

Comments, letters, and other documents


Comments on Governor Mark Gordon’s draft executive order concerning the management of big game migration corridors (Jan. 20, 2020)

2018-2019 BLM Oil & Gas Leased Acreage within the Baggs Mule Deer Migration Corridor

2018-2019 BLM Oil & Gas Leased Acreage within the Sublette Mule Deer Migration Corridor

2018-2019 BLM Oil & Gas Leased Acreage within the Platte Valley Mule Deer Migration Corridor

Protest of the Wyoming BLM’s fourth quarter competitive oil and gas lease sale (Nov. 6, 2019)

Comments on the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Converse County Oil and Gas Project (July 25, 2019)

Letter re: protest of Wyoming BLM March 2019 competitive oil and natural gas lease sale (Feb. 25, 2019)

Red Desert to Hoback (“Sublette”) Mule Deer Migration Corridor Overlap with WY BLM 3rd Quarter 2018, Supplemental February 2019, and 1st Quarter 2019 Oil and Gas Lease Parcels (Jan. 31, 2019)

Protest of Wyoming Greater sage-grouse proposed RMP amendment/final EIS
(Jan. 28, 2019)

Letter re: protest of Wyoming BLM February 25 to March 1, 2019 competitive oil and natural gas lease sale
(Jan. 19, 2019)

Comments on Wyoming BLM first quarter competitive oil and natural gas lease sale EA
(Dec. 13, 2018)

Comments on US Forest Service’s proposed land management plan amendments and DEIS
(Dec. 10, 2018)

Letter re: ensuring functionality of wildlife corridors by using the best available science to implement secretarial order 3362
(Dec. 3, 2018)

Letter re: supplemental comments on Wyoming BLM fourth quarter competitive oil and natural gas lease sale EA (Nov. 9, 2018)

Letter re: request for lease deferrals in the Sublette mule deer migration corridor and in mule deer crucial winter range (Aug. 21, 2018)

Letter re: protest of Wyoming BLM September 2018 competitive oil and natural gas lease sale (Aug. 11, 2018)

Comments on Wyoming Greater sage-grouse Draft RMP amendment and EIS (Aug. 2, 2018)

Comments on Wyoming BLM second quarter competitive oil and natural gas lease sale EA (March 27, 2018)