Visitor Counter

hitwebcounter web counter
Visitors Since Blog Created in March 2010

Click Below to:

Add Blog to Favorites

Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

Subscribe via email to get updates

Enter your email address:

Receive New Posting Alerts

(A Maximum of One Alert Per Day)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The second-longest land migration in North America. and the longest mule deer migration ever recorded occurred during the winter of 2011 up in the Red Desert in Wyoming.............Mule Deer decided to trot 100 miles north from the low elevation desert to the high elevation summer range of Hoback Basin near Yellowstone..............Biologist Hall Sawyer of Western Ecosystems Technology states that "a migration like this could take hundreds or even thousands of years to shape" ..............“It leads them(the Mule Deer) to a place to maximize their fitness and reproduction...............The information regarding this migration will be shared with traffic and resource managers so as to mitigate difficult road crossings, fences and other barriers that can stymie the Deer in their marathon to the high country

Group documents new mule deer migration corridor

A mule deer buck travels south near Boulder Lake in Sublette County along a newly discovered deer migration corridor. The Wyoming Migration Initiative recently released an assessment of risks along the route. Photo courtesy of Joe Riis
When biologist Hall Sawyer set out to track the movements of a herd of mule deer that winter in the Red Desert near Rock Springs, he figured the project was pretty straight-forward.

Working for environmental consulting company Western Ecosystems Technology in the winter of 2011 on a study funded by the Bureau of Land Management, Sawyer equipped 40 mule deer with GPS collars designed to drop off in two years.

A few months later, as spring arrived, Sawyer returned to the Red Desert to look for the deer.

“We thought they resided here,” he said.

He was wrong.

“We were in for a big surprise,” he said. “The surprise was the deer weren’t there.”

Researchers eventually found the deer more than 100 miles north. They had left the low-elevation desert — where they spent the winter — for high-elevation summer range on mountains surrounding the Hoback Basin near Yellowstone National Park.

It’s the second-longest land migration in North America.the longest mule deer migration ever recorded

“This incredible migration story was revealed to us,” Sawyer said.

Sawyer discussed the migration during a presentation Tuesday evening at the University of Wyoming.

As the mule deer gain more than 3,000 feet in elevation in their yearly journey from the plains to the mountains, the group grows to almost 5,000 animals. They pass through sand dunes and cross lakes and rivers. They also cross highways and more than 100 fences as they move through public and private land.

“A migration like this could take hundreds or even thousands of years to shape,” Sawyer said. “It leads them to a place to maximize their fitness and reproduction.”

As spring breaks across Wyoming, pronghorn, moose, elk and mule deer start to move. According to Matthew Kauffman, who directs the Wyoming Migration Initiative, more than 90 percent of ungulates migrate. In the spring, they move from low elevations to high, following the new growth of grasses and forbs.

“This is one of the things that makes Wyoming one of the truly wild places left in the West,” said.

Kauffman also heads the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and is an associate professor at the University of Wyoming. He founded the Wyoming Migration Initiative together with Bill Rudd, a retired biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

The goal of the initiative is to connect the latest migration science with decision-makers and the public.     The migratory paths followed by big-game herds are usually the same paths they’ve followed for generations. When animals encounter man-made obstacles, they either detour around or hurry through, sometimes losing foraging opportunities along the way, Kauffman said.

The Migration Initiative conducted an assessment of the Red Desert-to-Hoback mule deer migration. Scientists identified the top risks, such as road crossings, fences and bottlenecks. They hope that identifying potential problems will help land managers, landowners and other agencies better direct their conservation efforts.

Already, the Wyoming Department of Transportation has plans to modify fencing and install gates along a highway this summer, he said.

If we want to continue to enjoy the deer herds that we have today, we need to protect these migration routes,” Sawyer said.

While conducting the assessment, the Migration Initiative enlisted National Geographic photographer Joe Riis to document the movement of the herds. Riis, a recent UW graduate, earned a reputation for wildlife photography while following a pronghorn migration several years ago.

Riis began working on the project in the summer of 2012 and captured his best shots the following summer and fall.

He uses motion-triggered camera traps for many shots, which requires predicting where the deer will be and anticipating their movements.

He also made a short video that includes footage of a herd crossing a stream.

 “It’s a dream for me to get a shot like that,” Riis said.

Photos of the migration are included in the assessment, which is available on the Wyoming Migration Initiative website.

A video is also available for viewing. A photo exhibit will travel the state this year and next year as part of further outreach efforts.

For more information, go to

No comments: