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MDF Pledges Support and Help for Habitat Restoration on Federal Public Lands

MDF Pledges Support and Help for Habitat Restoration on Federal Public Lands

Interior Secretary Zinke signing SO3362

Mule Deer Foundation Applauds Secretary of the Interior for Big Game Corridors/Winter Range Secretarial Order

The Mule Deer Foundation (MDF) applauded a new Secretarial Order focused on big game migration corridors and winter range. Secretarial Order 3362 was signed today by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke at the Western Hunting & Conservation Expo, the annual convention of the Mule Deer Foundation. The order outlines the Department’s intent to work closely with the 11 western states to enhance and improve the quality of big game winter range and migration corridor habitat on federal lands that the Department manages.

“We greatly appreciate Secretary Zinke’s commitment to improving the habitat quality of big game migratory corridors and winter range on lands managed by the department’s bureaus,” commented MDF President/CEO, Miles Moretti. “Big game populations have faced increasing challenges during their seasonal migrations and in the crucial winter period. Federal public lands play a critical role in the annual life cycle of mule deer and black-tailed deer and we pledge our wholehearted support and engagement to implement Secretarial Order 3362.”

Secretarial Order 3362 calls on the Department’s bureaus to work collaboratively with state fish and wildlife agencies and non-profit organizations like MDF that are actively engaged on conservation of big game winter range and migration corridors. Together the partners will identify priority areas and work together on a potential range of actions including habitat restoration on degraded winter range and migration corridors (such as pinon-juniper encroachment into sagebrush or wildfire restoration), limiting disturbance of big game on winter range, avoiding or minimizing development activities that fragment winter range or corridor habitat particularly during sensitive seasons, and more. In addition, land management bureaus are tasked with working with state fish and wildlife agencies to use winter range and migration corridor data when updating land-use plans or for significant projects on federal lands.

“While these species are managed by states, and we have worked closely with western state fish and wildlife agencies in support of their efforts, the Department of the Interior plays a key role in conserving these important big game habitats on the lands that they manage,” Moretti continued. “This initiative will be a top priority for MDF and we look forward to working closely with the Department and the states to develop and implement projects that will improve the size, vitality and sustainability of our western big game populations.”

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