Migration Protection – a pipe dream
I recently wrote a piece for the Huffington Post regarding wildlife sanctuaries. The idea behind preserved areas for wildlife are to provide space for animals to live. It was a good effort, born under Theodore Roosevelt, when the first federally protected sanctuaries were created.
The problem is that animals aren’t humans. In addition to the land where they live, animals also require regular migration routes. Migratory patterns have been destroyed for many species in North America. Not only do highways, fences, and the spread of urban sprawl directly intrude on land previously a part of essential migration pathways, but light pollution is interfering with nighttime navigation for birds.
Animals are increasingly losing their lives due to the effects of climate change. When they also lose their ability to migrate, it becomes a two-pronged attack on their species.
Though solutions would be complex, involving many landowners and the cooperation of governments from the local to the federal levels, it is possible. Wyoming has become a trailblazer, protecting animal migration more than any other state for the Pronghorn. This was a relatively easy project, as the Pronghorn has a predictable and trackable migration pattern. It will take a real effort to save other species.
Because of the political element any solution will require, it’s hard to have hope at the present moment that action will be taken anytime soon. While citizens clamor for pipeline construction (like the Keystone XL), preservation of migration patterns falls into the shadows. Each project requires the same amount of collaboration and government management – which do you think will be addressed first?