In an area of wilderness outside of Yellowstone National Park where there may be only about 10 wild lynx left, an oil and gas project has been proposed. Why does it appear oil companies like to drill in critical wildlife habitat?
The Forest Service has said of the wild habitat, “Experts have described the southern portions of the project area and the land immediately south of the project area as vital to the survival of lynx in Wyoming, and as the highest quality lynx habitat within the state.” (Source: Defenders of Wildlife)
The area where the proposed oil and gas project could be begun is the Upper Hoback Basin, which is also habitat for antelope, mule deer, moose, black bears, mountain lions and wolves. The species potentially most impacted by the project would likely be the Canada lynx, because of the large number of snowshoe hares living there, and the lynx use them for food.
It isn’t just the land animals that are threatened though – the Hoback River could also be damaged. A conservation organization called American Rivers has said this: “The Hoback River is threatened with catastrophic damage to water quality if the US Forest Service permits natural gas drilling in its headwaters.” (Source: American Rivers)
They also echo the view expressed in the video below, that local people must get accurate valid readings of the water quality in their wells, so they have proper documentation that can be used in lawsuits if there is any water contamination due to the oil and gas project.
Grassroots efforts to protect Wyoming’s beautiful and abundant wilderness met with success earlier this year, when gas and oil leases were cancelled for tens of thousands of acres. However, these lands do not include the Upper Hoback Basin. There is some hope the previous success will help organizers also prevent oil and gas development there.
Image Credit: kdee64 (Keith Williams) / Flickr