From the U.S. Department of the Interior

With a new order from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke signed earlier this month, antelope, elk and mule deer will see habitat quality and migration corridors improved. The order also calls for improved collaboration with states and private landowners and facilitates all by using the best available science to inform new guidelines to result in the continuation of robust big game populations.

The order seeks to improve wildlife management and conservation and expand opportunities for big game hunting by improving priority habitats within important ​and migration corridors across the western U.S. Priority states currently include Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

“We all know that animals go where animals want to go, and more often than not that’s dependent upon natural features like watersheds, rather than whether land is owned by the Bureau of Land Management, state, or private landowners. We need to manage appropriately. 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,” said Secretary Zinke. “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.”

States are prioritizing migration initiatives to better understand the habits of animals like mule deer, elk, and antelope; however, there is much work the federal government can do to better understand the animals and improve habitat. The migration patterns of these species cross over thousands of miles of all types of land including federal, private, state, and tribal. For example, in southern Utah, mule deer travel up to 110 miles into Arizona from Bryce Canyon National Park into the Arizona strip area. They cross state, private, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and U.S. Forest Service land. These species also cross tribal lands and use highway underpasses and critical public land habitats along that annual journey. The Secretarial Order initiative will help with many aspects of solving the challenges encountered along the pathways of these migratory routes.