United States Geological Survey And Partners Release Latest Conservation Map Aimed At Aiding Wildlife Migration

Readers of this blog know that maintaining corridors for wild animal crossing is essential to the survival of wildlife here and abroad. Highways take a frightful toll and blocking routes leads to inbreeding and local extinction.

a pronghorn near white snow
Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) are a speedy game antelope of the American West and part of the USGS survey. Photo by Dick Hoskins on Pexels.com

We have frequently reported on Liberty Canyon, a freeway overcrossing that is designed to allow mountain lions and other wildlife to traverse the 101 Freeway. Unfortunately that crossing will come too late for P-22,. He was a cougar it was hoped would live to cross it. We have reported on CalTrans efforts to provide crossings as well.

Internationally, efforts to expand wildlife corridors are expected to help jaguars in Central and South America and tigers in Asia.

Today, the focus is on the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and its partners. USGS has just released volume three of an ambitious series of reports on wildlife migration patterns in the United States. USGS partnered with a variety of interested parties.

a brown elk near tall trees
Elk (Cervus canadensis) are one of the largest members of the deer family. They are hunted by many species. Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels.com

USGS is working with state and tribal authorities to identify the routes wild animals, including deer and antelope, use when migrating. The goal is to help identify key corridors and keep them open for the animals to use. This is important for hunters, ranchers and outdoor enthusiasts. The animals themselves, of course, and the web of life dependent on them receive the most benefit.

According to USGS:

“Many ungulate herds must migrate to thrive on the strongly seasonal landscapes of the American West. These corridor maps make it possible to plan for keeping those corridors open,” said Matthew Kauffman, research wildlife biologist with the USGS Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and the report’s lead author.” Bold in original quote.

Although he survived a decade and crossed two freeways P-22 is an emblem of the need for animal corridors. The Liberty Canyon overcrossing is expected to allow safe passage for cougars (Puma concolor) , mule deer and other species over the deadly 101 Freeway.

The project is maturing. When it started planners could only hope it would lead to better conservation planning. Apparently it has.

“… state and Tribal wildlife agencies, in partnership with transportation agencies, have used the migration maps to plan and construct wildlife underpasses and overpasses that allow animals to safely cross major highways or to develop message boards and automatic systems along highways to alert drivers of crossing animals. Maps are also being used to remove fences, inform recreation planning, guide siting of renewable energy projects, and limit housing development in migration corridors through zoning and conservation easements.”

Internationally, we have reported on similar efforts that aid jaguars and tigers.

Published by ursusrising

long time writer and editor living in Los Angeles

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