February 22, 2023

Bill to fund wildlife corridors passes Senate

Laura Paskus

Because irrigation ditches are more than just coyote highways, right?

The Senate passed a bill on a 37-2 vote that would create a fund to receive federal dollars to assist in creating wildlife corridors.

SB 72, sponsored by Senate Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, builds off of past legislation that resulted in a wildlife corridor study. It further appropriates $5 million to the fund to help match federal money.

The fund will help the state build passages like overpasses and underpasses as well as changing culverts to allow animals to safely cross the roadway, thus protecting both people and wildlife from collisions.

Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, said the bill has the added benefit of expanding wildlife habitat by removing barriers.

Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, spoke about hitting deer with his truck while traveling for the legislative session. He said that has led to increased insurance premiums.

“I know this is not going to totally alleviate the problems,” he said. “In certain areas I think this would be extremely beneficial, not only for the wildlife, but folks that are going up and down the roads.”

SB 72 now heads to the House.