Interior Secretary Zinke signs order to improve habitats of big game species

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior Ryan Zinke visited Salt Lake City Friday.

At the Western Conservation and Hunting Expo, Zinke signed an order that seeks to “improve wildlife management and conservation and expand opportunities for big game hunting by improving priority habitats within important and migration corridors across the West.”

Priority states currently include Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming​.

Zinke wants the federal agency to work with states and private landowners to improve habitats and better understand the migration routes of big game species of the West.

​"​We all know that animals go where animals want to go, and more often than not that's dependent​ ​upon natural features like watersheds,​ ​rather than whether land is owned by the BLM, state, or private landowners. We need to manage appropriately. ​My goal is healthy herds for American hunters and wildlife watchers, and this order will he​​lp establish better migration corridors for some of North America's most iconic big game species like elk, mule deer and antelope," said Secretary Zinke. "

"American hunters are the backbone of big game conservation efforts, and now working with state and private landowners, the Department will leverage its land management and scientific expertise to both study the migration habits of wildlife as well as identify ways to improve the habitat."

Earlier in the day, Secretary Zinke was joined by the Mule Deer Foundation and volunteers to capture, tag, collar, and release mule deer for research. ​The tagging and collaring the deer will allow scientists to gather more data and shed light on the migration habits of the species.

Zinke also met with Governor Gary Herbert Friday. The Governor's Office says their meeting focused on the Department of the Interior’s efforts to reduce and realign regions for their department, with the aim to put decision makers closer to the states and their people.

Gov. Herbert believes Utah would benefit from such changes, and hopes that such changes will improve efficiency and good communication when it comes to public lands decisions that matter to Utahns.  He released the following statement:

"The Department of the Interior’s plan to realign the regions in their department reflects good old-fashioned common sense. Practical solutions like this can help restore trust between the states and the federal government," said Herbert. 

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