This is not debatable. Countless studies have highlighted the negative impacts that habitat fragmentation and increased industrial activity causes to wildlife. The Department should have acknowledged this truth before suggesting more leasing is needed to minimize the negative effects that development has on our wildlife resources.
For the sake of argument, assume Director Nesvik’s argument is valid. Currently, there are approximately nine million acres of federal minerals under lease in Wyoming for oil and gas development. These lands are not impacted by President Biden’s Executive Order. Surely the Department can achieve its mitigation goals with an area more than four times the size of Yellowstone National Park for the duration of the Administration’s leasing pause.
Unfortunately, Director Nesvik’s position jeopardizes the Department’s credibility. His position stands in direct conflict with the Department’s public trust responsibility to conserve Wyoming’s wildlife and gives the appearance of succumbing to political influence. Wyoming wildlife are a public resource. The Department has both the power and the duty to protect, preserve, and nurture the wildlife in the state for the common benefit of all Wyoming residents. In managing the public resource, the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation requires that science, not politics, drive wildlife policy.
Founded in 1937, and now the state’s oldest sportsman/conservation organization, the Wyoming Wildlife Federation supports a science-driven approach to managing Wyoming’s wildlife. Our mission is to conserve wildlife, habitat, and outdoor opportunity. We recognize energy plays a large role in Wyoming’s economy and tax base, and folks working in oil and gas are members of WWF. We also recognize it is our wildlife resource and hunting and fishing opportunities that keeps us here. It also attracts people from all over the world, and helps make tourism the second largest, and fastest growing sector of our economy.