SANTA FE _ A bill that would direct New Mexico agencies to develop a comprehensive plan for dealing with places where wildlife commonly cross highways cleared a legislative committee hearing Thursday.
The Senate Conservation Committee advanced a bill sponsored by Sen Mimi Stewart that would earmark $100,000 from the state game protection fund for the wildlife corridors planning effort.
Stewart testified that the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the state transportation department have been meeting on the issue in recent years. The agencies have addressed some areas of the state already, she said, but said the issue could benefit from a more comprehensive approach.
Stewart said the legislation is aimed at, “saving our wildlife, saving our big game and saving people from dying on our highways because they hit a deer, a bear or an elk.”
Michael Dax, New Mexico outreach representative with Defenders of WIldlife, spoke with Stewart in favor of the bill.
In addition to protecting wildlife, Dax said identifying and addressing established wildlife corridors would benefit public safety. He said collisions between vehicles and wildlife cost millions every year.
Trent Botkin with the state department of transportation said his agency supports the bill. “It will allow us to implement wildlife crossings on a statewide basis,” he said.
The bill is Senate Bill 228.