As outdoor enthusiasts, we are all inherently environmentalists that care about our surroundings and are able to notice when things change for the good… and the bad. Because of that, we are the best at informing others of what policies and regulations that may be changing and how it affects everyone. As our society continues to develop through the building of roads, housing developments, and commercial properties, we have become blind to how we can change a whole ecosystem.
Some people may wonder why so many animals are found dead on the side of the road or why we are seeing so many predators in our yards. The simple answer is this: we are intruding on land that has been theirs for hundreds of years. Animals have an instinct to live and thrive in certain areas. The same goes for large game animals such as deer. That being said, the Farm Bill is up for review and it is up to our congress to decide how much funding some agencies under the USDA are granted. Surprising to some but not too many, these programs and agencies are important to conservation and research. Seven percent of the Farm Bill budget is spent on conservation programs and equals out to about $5.6 billion dollars. Beyond conservation, funding is also set aside for research and development into ways to cohabitate with wildlife.
Researchers in Montana and Wyoming put that funding to good use and even managed to convince Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to begin putting the data obtained to use in an effort to maintain centuries-old migration routes for deer. Some big game species have been found to migrate up to 200 miles each spring and fall! Can you imagine how many of those were killed in vehicle collisions? The solution to this problem is a simple one: find migration corridors and implement road crossing structures. Believe it or not, large mammals are 146% more likely to use road crossing structures when they were implemented at high use locations.
The science and research has been completed, the data is conclusive, and now it’s up to us to make sure funding isn’t cut to the Farm Bill!