The state of Nevada’s migration corridors is set to have a major boost in priority within BLM lands. The Department of the Interior sent out a memo outlining 13 action item points that will help migratory big game animals move from summer to winter range every year. This plan in particular will help mule deer who have oftentimes followed the “green wave” the farthest. Every spring the deer and pronghorns follow the snow line with the greenest most nutrient-dense food back to the higher elevations. Every year that gets a little tougher with fragmentation, competition and development all eroding the landscape.
This is also significant because Nevada has vast swaths of BLM land. These giant tracts will serve the battle grounds for preserving and ideally growing Nevada’s mule deer population. I’ve documented well in the Eastmans’ MRS the steady downward trajectory that the deer herd has faced in the recent past. These priorities will, over time, help be a boon for these deer herds and with a little luck I may be able to report stabilization and eventually growth in the areas where these management strategies have taken place.
Of those 13 points here are a few that will likely make a huge difference:
- Development in migration and winter range habitat will be delayed during the winter or other crucial seasons.
- Fragmentation of winter range due to development would be avoided.
- Multiple points cover a variety of plant and habitat strategies that would over time improve winter range and migration corridor forage.
- Work with NDOW to identify fences that need to be removed or replaced with wildlife friendly fences.
- Other actions involving water sources can be read below in the full press release.
All of these actions will be a huge win for Nevada’s wildlife. However, there is one major piece of the equation that is missing and honestly I don’t envy the job of selling to the public what must happen to fix the issue of wild horses. Nevada has been dealing with this issue for years and these, while beautiful creatures, exist on the landscape in such high numbers improving deer and pronghorn populations to match objectives will be tough.
The wild horse issue really becomes apparent in drought years like this one. Their ability to out compete their smaller competition for food and water is bringing the issue to the limelight. The solution is removing them, but will it be in a non-lethal form?
The policies are a win for mule deer and to some extent antelope. We hope the BLM will be able to tackle the challenges that come from wild horses in too heavy of populations on the landscape next!