Core habitats have long been acknowledged as a critical component for wildlife conservation. An area large enough to support a sustainable population is vital if we are to preserve wildlife. But the conservation community is beginning to focus on the habitat in between –the wildlife corridors that allow species to migrate between core habitats or to simply wander throughout their range.
Too often the protection of these essential habitats has been overlooked. The lack of protection for wildlife corridors can have an enormous impact on wildlife populations.
Fortunately, new advances in GPS tracking are helping wildlife biologists better understand the location and importance of wildlife corridors. The recently introduced Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act of 2019 could lead to the protection of these wildlife corridors at the federal level.
What Is a Wildlife Corridor?
A wildlife corridor is a distinct component of the landscape or seascape that provides habitat or ecological connectivity and allows for fish, wildlife or plant movement. Wildlife corridors provide wildlife with migratory pathways, increase genetic diversity, help reduce human-wildlife conflicts and can help reestablish populations in core habitats after a random catastrophic population loss (such as a wildfire).
One notable example is the wildlife corridor used by one population of Pronghorns in Wyoming. This population migrates from its breeding grounds in Grand Teton National Park to its wintering grounds near Pinedale, WY. The 150-mile trip is one of the longest terrestrial migrations in the Western Hemisphere. This corridor is critical to the survival of this population of Pronghorns and in some areas is as narrow as 350 feet! If this wildlife corridor is lost, we could lose the 300 member herd of Grand Teton Pronghorns. Fortunately, an effort called “Path of the Pronghorn” is beginning to successfully protect this critical wildlife corridor. This work includes underpasses and overpasses to reduce vehicle collisions, landowner outreach, wildlife friendly fencing, land preservation and more.