Member Spotlight

Kylie Paul, Rockies and Plains Representative, Defenders of Wildlife; and Outreach Coordinator, People’s Way PartnershipIMG_5979_2

Kylie grew up in Minnesota and has long had interest in roads and wildlife – since a child she has collected wildlife skulls that she finds and these exciting discoveries are often found along roadways. Once in graduate school at the University of Montana to earn her Master of Science Degree in Environmental Studies, she focused her thesis on road ecology, assessing citizen science’s ability to document wildlife along roadways in order to reduce wildlife/road conflict. Currently, Kylie works with Defenders of Wildlife in Missoula, MT, leading the wolverine program and working on fishers, lynx, and efforts to increase rancher and predator coexistence, as well as maintaining ties to highway-wildlife conflict conservation efforts.

For several years, Kylie has coordinated outreach for the People’s Way Partnership, a unique partnering of Defenders of Wildlife, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Western Transportation Institute of Montana State University, and Montana Department of Transportation (MDT). To mitigate the expansion of a  56-mile long road section on the ecological and cultural integrity of the the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana, MDT built 41 fish and wildlife crossing structures, 16 miles of wildlife fencing, 39 jump-outs, and many wildlife crossing guards. The magnitude of the US 93 North reconstruction project provides an unprecedented opportunity to evaluate to what extent these mitigation measures help improve safety through a reduction in wildlife-vehicle collisions and maintain habitat connectivity for wildlife. The landscape along US 93 North is heavily influenced by human use, in contrast to the more natural habitats along most of the other road sections that have large-scale wildlife mitigation in North America. Since roads with most wildlife-vehicle collisions are in rural areas influenced by human use, the results from the US 93 North project are expected to be of great interest to agencies throughout North America.

The People’s Way Partnership’s mission is to effectively communicate the conservation value of the 41 wildlife crossing structures along U.S. Highway 93 North on, to have the public informed and supportive of wildlife crossing structures in Montana and the nation.  Recent efforts have included the design and creation of permanent educational signs for the traveling public at pertinent rest-stop locations along US93 within the Reservation;  a poster contest to teach school-age children about the importance of wildlife crossing structures under and over highways for both human and wildlife safety, with presentations to 950 students on the Reservation with 340 submitted poster entries; and a LightHawk flight in a six-passenger plane with several important decision-makers to see the highway corridor to illustrate the utility of wildlife crossing structures on the landscape.

Prior to Defenders, Kylie  worked at an environmental consulting firm in Missoula, Montana as a wildlife biologist, working on NEPA reports and other policy issues, wildlife habitat assessments, and wildlife monitoring.  Previously, she performed numerous years of wildlife field research working with wolves, sea otters, prairie dogs, and songbirds across the United States.