Target: John Cox, Director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation
Goal: Build support for an ongoing commitment to pronghorn conservation
Pronghorn, sometimes referred to as antelope, are found only in North America. In the state of Wyoming, pronghorn make an annual migration of more than 100 miles to and from Grand Teton National Park. Seeking to protect these beautiful animals, conservationists and the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) partnered to create the Path of the Pronghorn: America’s only federally-designated wildlife migration corridor.
Highways, ranchers’ fences and other development make maintaining the traditional migration route a real challenge for pronghorn. Successfully overcoming these obstacles, the Path of the Pronghorn represents not just good stewardship but a feat of engineering, as well. The construction of fences, underpasses and two overpasses across busy roads was expensive, but WYDOT’s efforts were not in vain. While pronghorn were once frequently hit by vehicles as they tried to cross, researchers now observe herds successfully using the overpasses.
With the project now in its third year, there is much to celebrate. But without an ongoing commitment to maintaining this wildlife corridor, pronghorn will disappear from Grand Teton National Park. Applaud WYDOT for their commitment to pronghorn conservation, and urge the agency to continue investing in the survival of this iconic species.
Dear John Cox, Director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation,
Since the completion of the Path of the Pronghorn in 2012, researchers have noted the animals’ successful use of overpasses to avoid dangerous road crossings. Truly, WYDOT deserves applause for this investment of time, energy and funds in pronghorn conservation. Without such efforts, there is every reason to believe that the species would disappear from Grand Teton National Park forever.
Rather than having to dart across a busy highway and underneath a wire fence, pronghorn herds can now move more freely along their annual migration route. This has meant less traffic collisions, less stress for the animals, and fewer pronghorn deaths. The design and implementation of this first-ever federally designated wildlife migration corridor is a real success for Wyoming, and offers hope for the sustainability of pronghorn across the state.
According to Jeff Burrell, Northern Rockies Program Coordinator for the Wildlife Conservation Society, WYDOT deserves every bit of praise for the project’s success. Yet it will take a continued commitment to ensure that pronghorn thrive in Wyoming. I understand that in today’s economy many priorities compete for limited state funds. Please, continue to fully fund and maintain the Path of the Pronghorn as a vital corridor for migrating wildlife.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Mark Gocke/USDA via Flickr