Game and Fish Department unveils mapping project | Wyoming News

“Making a case to the public for habitat conservation can be incredibly difficult. Mainly, I think, because there are so many complexities,” said Alan Rogers, communications director for the Wyoming Outdoor Council. “Consider the sagebrush ecosystem — millions of acres, hundreds of plant and animal species, being impacted by everything from invasive grasses to wildfire to industrial development. Animals are easier for people to understand, or assume we understand, and our response to them is very emotional.”

People naturally form connections to animals, either to individuals like a family pet or charismatic wild species like eagles or moose.

“Wildlife are loaded with symbolism. We see certain species as ‘good’ or ‘noble’ and worthy of our respect and protection,” Rogers said.

Wildlife is also easy to quantify. Scientists and conservation advocates can effectively communicate this information to the public, which can plainly see if a population is in decline or on the rise, because those numbers are tracked over time and simple to understand.

“Experience tells the public that if a population is shrinking, something is wrong and it’s probably our fault,” Rogers said.

Habitat, on the other hand, is not so simple.

“It sprawls across state lines, land management jurisdictions, private agricultural lands, areas developed for oil and gas, timber or mining, and even people’s backyards,” he said.


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