Wildlife migration patterns pay no attention to the human labels of private and public. To wildlife, land is land, but unfortunately, man has developed and drilled that land, disrupting the habitats animals thrived and survived on before we set foot on them.
One of the things we’ve done in the U.S. to conserve what’s left of our wildlife has been the purchase and protection of public lands. The federal government has designated numerous national parks, forests, and monuments, as well as purchased land that belonged to private owners and companies, and these spaces have become vital to different animals’ survival. Groups such as the National Wildlife Federation have pointed out the importance of public lands to wildlife and work hard, in tandem with state agencies, to safeguard them. In the past several years, “wildlife corridors” that connect state-owned lands and allow animals from deer to grouse to continue safely on their usual migration routes have become a conservationist focus. And while we’re only beginning to understand these corridors’ value, they are now in danger of being eliminated under the new presidential administration.
The Obama administration did quite a lot to protect wildlife, from increasing the amount of public lands and marine territories to battling illegal wildlife trade. The current administration, however, is on quite a different trajectory. It wants to increase development on public land, something that it’s attempting to accomplish through executive orders such as one that would redefine national monument designations as well as plans by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who oversees 500 million acres of public lands, to review conservation plans in place in Western states. All over the country, political plans such as these are already posing a threat to wildlife survival that has already been endangered to start with.