Wildlife conservation is often a top priority for federal, state, and local government agencies. WEST has conducted countless wildlife surveys, inventories, and impact assessments across North America for a variety of entities, including multiple federal, state, county, and municipal governments across the US.
WEST’s combined statistical and ecological approach to wildlife research and management provides our government entity clients with scientifically credible results that are defensible, objective, and concise. Our expert ecologists develop survey protocols and assemble field crews of all sizes to meet schedule and survey effort needs for a wide range of projects while employing the very latest techniques, field equipment, and study methodologies. Our biometricians employ the most current statistical methods and have extensive experience designing studies and analyzing data for a variety of wildlife issues. These services benefit government entities by providing scientific-based consulting services to solve ongoing natural resource issues.
The WEST team has supported various Department of Transportation roadway projects for nearly three decades. Our staff of biologists, ecologists, and statisticians are experts in their fields who have existing relationships with various Departments of Transportation, state and federal agencies, and other resource-based groups.
WEST has been the third-party program manager for the Middle Rio Grande Endangered Species Collaborative Program (MRGESCP) in New Mexico since 2016, and provides programmatic, administrative, and scientific support to the program and its signatories. The MRGESCP is a diverse partnership of federal, state, tribal and university signatories together to address environmental concerns in the Middle Rio Grande related to endangered species. The program’s collaborative efforts aim to protect and improve the status of endangered species and their habitats along the Middle Rio Grande, while also protecting existing and future regional water uses.
The MRGESCP works on the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow, the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher, the threatened yellow-billed cuckoo, and the endangered meadow jumping mouse. Through the MRGESCP, the signatory agencies coordinate projects and management actions, and share information on scientific studies, information and results.
The seasonal migrations of ungulates are increasingly threatened by various forms of anthropogenic disturbance, including roads, fences, and other infrastructure. While roadway impacts of two-lane highways to mule deer can largely be mitigated with underpasses and continuous fencing, similar mitigation may not be effective for pronghorn or other ungulate species that are reluctant to move through confined areas.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation installed six underpasses and two overpasses along 20 kilometers of US Highway 191. Species-specific preferences were evaluated by documenting the number of migratory mule deer and pronghorn that used adjacent overpasses and underpasses for three years following construction.
WEST staff, including Dr. Hall Sawyer documented 40,251 mule deer and 19,290 pronghorn that migrated across the highway. Of those 79% of mule deer moved under the highway whereas 93% of pronghorn moved over the highway.
Our results highlight that species-specific preferences are an important consideration when mitigating roadway impacts with wildlife crossing structures. Overpass and underpass construction reduced wildlife-vehicle collisions by approximately 81%.
WEST has worked with the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies to estimate range-wide lesser prairie-chicken population sizes annually since 2012 by inventorying leks (mating sites) within four ecoregions of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Lesser prairie-chickens were counted on leks by WEST biologists using helicopters during the spring breeding season. The objective of these surveys was to implement consistent, statistically robust surveys and analysis methods to estimate lesser prairie-chicken population size and lek abundance to inform population trends that can be used in management decisions.