Scientists, sportsmen and women explain why seasonal habitat and migration routes for big game species must be conserved
The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership released a film today exploring the importance of planning for migration corridor conservation in New Mexico and, more generally, across the West. The film, “Migration Corridors: Connecting the Wildlife and People of New Mexico,” features a New Mexican hunter and a hunting guide, officials from the U.S. Forest Service and New Mexico Game & Fish, and TRCP staff.
The film showcases the insights offered by the most recent research into big game migration corridors, the importance of these routes to wildlife, and the impact of wildlife-dependent outdoor recreation on New Mexico’s economy.
“We wanted to make a film that would highlight the importance of migration corridors and help explain why this has become a major priority for conservationists,” said John Cornell, southwest field manager for the TRCP. “Hunters have always known how important migration routes are for the animals we pursue each fall, and the most up-to-date science keeps making a stronger case for paying special attention to these habitats.”
To survive the varied seasonal conditions found across the West, big game must be able to move freely across the landscape at key times of the year to access nutritious food. Emerging science and recent technologies can pinpoint well-defined corridors traveled by animals during these migrations and measure how much time they spend in certain places along the way known as stopover habitats.
Research also shows that human development can disrupt the normal patterns of migrating ungulates.
Subdivisions, fences, roads, and energy development all contribute to the loss of big-game habitat and impede the migrations of these animals between the seasonal habitats on which they rely.
Like many other states across the West, New Mexico is in the first stages of mapping big game migration corridors with the most up-to-date GPS technology. This research will help guide policymakers as they make decisions about how to manage wildlife and human development.
“We have a lot of historic and local expert knowledge of big game movements on the landscape: A lot of local biologists and game wardens know the animals move into or out of these areas seasonally. But we have not identified those specifically…it is more just anecdotal evidence,” said Orrin Duvuvuei, deer biologist/migration coordinator with New Mexico Game & Fish.
The film also includes Dr. Karl Malcolm, southwestern regional wildlife ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service, who explained the coordinated effort that will be needed to manage for migration corridor conservation.
“If we—as a community of conservationists, government, non-government, federal, state, members of the public, NGOs— if we are going to do our job, we need to effectively consider the fact that the summer range and the winter range…need to be linked. Herds need to go where they have always gone,” said Malcolm.
In addition to Cornell, Duvuvuei, and Malcolm, the film also features hunting guide Art Martinez, local sportswoman and Backcountry Hunters & Anglers southwest chapter coordinator Katie DeLorenzo, New Mexico Game & Fish big game program manager Dr. Nicole Tatman, and TRCP chief scientist Dr. Ed Arnett.