Western energy development and wildlife—why upland hunters should care
The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, of which Pheasants Forever is a partner, held a press conference today (Dec. 1) on its appeal of its lawsuit to make the Department of the Interior live up to its promise to better manage energy development and resulting wildlife impacts in the Pinedale area of southwestern Wyoming.
Specifically, TRCP says a federal report (<http://www.wy.blm.gov/jio-papo/papo/reports/2010annualreport_muledeer.pdf>) documents declines of 60 percent in the area’s mule deer population; sage grouse, already a species of concern, are also being seriously impacted.
In fact, Dr. Rollin Sparrowe, TRCP board member, former federal biologist and past leader of the Pinedale Anticline Working Group Wildlife Task Group, said “every sage grouse (mating) lek has been negatively affected where this oil and gas development is occurring…If this continues, sage grouse will go to extinction.”
I, like many of you, have hunted mulies, sage grouse and antelope in Wyoming, some in the Pinedale area. Many other pheasant and quail hunters have also hunted big game in other western states where similar irresponsible energy development is underway or soon will be.
If TRCP’s legal appeal fails, the group says it will go to Congress to save western game from reckless energy development. If that happens, TRCP will need the help of upland hunters to get a good law passed.
Is TRCP against energy development? No. “We can have development, wildlife and hunting if energy development is done right. But now, mule deer are being decimated and more development is being planned, “ said Whit Fosburgh, TRCP president and CEO. “If the Pinedale energy development model is allowed to stand, what will happen to wildlife on the other 40 million acres in the west that is open for energy development?”
Fosburgh added that Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages most of the energy leases, was under tremendous pressure to get the Pinedale development going when it was first authorized in 2000. “The BLM had to move quickly and with very limited biological staff to advocate for wildlife.”
Upland hunters, there is a crisis in the west’s public lands that is destroying our wildlife and hunting heritage. Stay tuned on TRCP’s appeal. If that fails, TRCP will need your calls and letters to your Congressional representatives to right this serious wrong.
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