The Oregon Hunters Association, a group of conservation-minded sportsmen, urges the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to develop and implement a policy to enhance and conserve migratory habitat for big game, and all wildlife that make seasonal movements. Habitat connectivity, the degree to which separate habitat patches are connected, is a crucial factor for conservation of wildlife. Increases in urban and energy development have resulted in extensive habitat loss and fragmentation for many species in Oregon. Fortunately, advances in wildlife tracking technology have allowed wildlife managers to more accurately identify where animals move on the landscape, as well as impediments to wildlife space use. For ungulate species (e.g., deer, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep), migration corridors are fundamental to their life history, but until recently, these corridors were thought of as conduits between seasonal ranges rather than essential habitat.
Many big game migration corridors are currently obstructed by transportation infrastructure and energy development sites. Therefore, state agencies must consider the full extent of migratory habitat to better manage ungulate populations.
ODFW is making progress by leaps and bounds through the Oregon Connectivity Assessment and Mapping Project, an innovative effort to map wildlife movement and corridors across the state. Oregon has an opportunity to ensure this new information leads to sound management solutions by developing agency policy to formally identify migration corridors.