(KCPW News) Pressure to increase domestic energy supplies could endanger wildlife habitats if federal policies don't change, warns a coalition of western sportsmen. William Geer of Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development, and a former director of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, says public land policies favor energy developers, not wildlife.
"Right now our concern is it's a willy-nilly frenetic pace that's making public lands single use, rather than multiple-use," Geer says. "It's trumping all other traditional multiple uses. We want the best of both worlds. We want to have energy over time, and we want to have the other uses that we go outside for, whether it's fish and wildlife uses or other legitimate uses.
Geer says federal policies should ensure energy is not extracted at the cost of wildlife. For instance, he says the Bureau of Land Management has a policy to protect wildlife only in areas that don't have mineral, oil or gas deposits. This allows for full development of an oil field, but Geer says it can potentially devastate a wildlife population. But energy developers can protect wildlife, if the extraction is conducted in phases, he says.
"It should be broken down so the parcel you are doing has similar habitat outside, so the animals displaced have a place to go and survive. Not all of them will survive, but enough of them, so that when you do restore that, there is a base population that can return and repopulate the area," Geer says.
The sportsmen's recommendations on oil and gas development have been delivered to the current administration and the two presidential candidates. Click here for a copy of the report.