Mule deer in Wyoming face a challenge of the human kind.
It's a problem that often bedevils utilities when they stretch power lines across hundreds of miles: The wires must be strung across land own my a multitude of owners and cross sometimes dozens of overlapping federal, state and local jurisdictions.
In the case of the mule deer, the problem is a migratory path from the Red Desert to the Hoback Basin. Between 4,000-5,000 deer travel the 150-mile path twice a year. They skirt a reservoir and subdivisions, and cross highways, fences, sand dunes and rivers. And, of course, they cross an invisible patchwork of owners and jurisdiction.
That's why we call on government agencies -- both state and federal -- and private landowners to work together to protect the unique migratory route for mule deer. They shouldn't miss a critical chance to ensure the mule deer that use the route are as unhindered as possible.
It's ultimately a selfish conversation. The mule deer are a valuable natural resource in Wyoming, both in their role in the ecosystem and as a hunting target.
The newly discovered migration route likely escaped notice for so long because the deer travel through many undeveloped portions of Wyoming's landscape. Yet increasingly they face their share of close brushes with humankind and find obstacles, including too-tall fences and oil and gas development.
We're glad to see there's already been some progress on the effort, since the migratory route was discovered recently. The Wyoming Department of Transportation, for example, has lowered the top wire on some fences surrounding a key highway crossing, to easy the mule deer's path. The migration route has a key ally, too, in the Wyoming Migration Initiative, an effort within the University of Wyoming to study migration routes in the state, and bring groups together to protect and preserve them.
Mule deer are a treasured Wyoming resource. Let's work together to make sure their numbers stay strong.