Goal of WUP's Wildlife Conservation Program: Reshape habitat management to give species at risk priority protection
Problem: Land and wildlife managers have the responsibility to care for all wildlife species, but the laws in place more-or-less make this optional. As a result, consumptive uses and political influences have made wildlife protection subordinate to other land uses. Through neglect, habitat has been lost and degraded, and wildlife placed at risk. The species that are in trouble have been pushed to the edge of existence. This means that the only option left for these species is listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. This act is different from almost all other public lands laws because it demands that agencies not let the species go extinct. Because this demand for action affects many traditional land management programs, the agencies don’t like the Endangered Species Act.
Our Solution: We promote habitat management that improves watershed conditions for wildlife as well as for dependent human communities. What is good for the sage grouse is good for the rancher! By having healthy lands, lands near their ecological potential, there is often no need for listing a species under the Endangered Species Act. The agencies have all the tools, but need to have a new priority that favors all wildlife, including species at risk.
Objectives/Plan of Action:
1) Increase public understanding of the problem and support wildlife habitat protection: We are using a number of means to reach the public, including traditional media, social networking, and agency communication routes. Our work involves developing a longer term relationship with media sources to help them meet their needs, to understand the world from their perspective, and to ensure that our story is part of that world.
2) Strive to re-tool agency programs that are in conflict with species at risk (e.g., renewable energy siting, oil and gas development, Off Highway Vehicle use, and range management): We offer scientific studies, challenge bad practices, provide models for what practices should be, and work in the field with land managers and users to help them do the right thing for wildlife.
3) Hold agencies accountable under the applicable wildlife laws: When agencies are required to act under the Endangered Species Act, we push for the agencies’ actions to lead to meaningful conservation for the species. Without citizen pressure, the agencies often delay actions or don’t take them at all.
Current wildlife related projects:
See amazing sage-grouse video footage in Wild Utah Project's sage-grouse video Dance for Survival.