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Unveiling of National Treasure in Wyoming

The longest ungulate migration corridor ever recorded in the world is right here in Wyoming’s backyard. Last night the University of Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit unveiled the 150 mile mule deer migration that starts in the Red Desert just east of Rock Springs and extends to the Hoback Basin in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The newly documented migration has up to 5,000 mule deer that use portions of the route dubbed the Red Desert to Hoback (RD2H).

A large crowd gathered at the Berry Center Auditorium of the UW campus where the migration corridor was unveiled.  Joe Riis, National Geographic photographer, was also present with his amazing photo display of wildlife and the landscape associated with the newly discovered route. Descriptive maps illustrated the Global Positioning System (GPS) collared data and mule deer movements along the route.  Steve Kilpatrick, Executive Director for the Wyoming Wildlife Federation said, “New technology just illustrated the “wild” in Wyoming’s wildlife - their need for space, and lots of it.  I helped collect one of the GPS collars for the Cooperative Research Unit in March of 2013, near Hoback Junction. I knew then this migration was something very special and unique to Wyoming. I also knew it would be coveted by us true Wyomingites. The Wyoming Wildlife Federation and the Muley Fanatic Foundation of Wyoming have partnered to facilitate “phase two” which is to conserve and enhance the 150 mile mule deer corridor. We are reviewing UW’s migration corridor assessment and developing a strategy to conserve this amazing migration into the future. Some of the solutions may include fence modification/removal, conservation easements, public land management policy changes/additions, habitat improvements, and/or development of a migration policy.

“We have the science now that presents the opportunity and need to merge it with management on the ground. Identifying the bottlenecks and how to relieve them is the next step. This migration corridor has healthy vegetation systems that support does and fawns. With declining deer numbers being seen across the western landscape we know that to grow more deer we need healthy herds. It is encouraging to see these efforts provide valuable information to assist in sound wildlife management.” - Joshua Coursey

Now the trick is to merge science with on-the-ground management. Over the course of the past ten or so years researchers and managers have been collecting spatial information on wildlife using GPS radio collars. GPS collars provide space-based information including precise locations. A plethora of useful information has been gathered with this new technology. One of the more important facets gathered from the vast amount of data is the identification and precise location of critical migration routes. As showcased last evening, researchers used similar technology to document the RD2H Mule Deer Migration.

Now that researchers have provided managers with precise information on when and where these mule deer migrate, they can be much more strategic in implementing strategies to conserve the corridor. 

Migrations are critically important to the present and future wellbeing of Wyoming’s renowned wild ungulate herds. Fragmentation of such vital migration routes could easily be devastating to herd numbers, health and/or long-term sustainability. Such migration routes are also important to YOUR cultural, hunting and wildlife viewing heritage. 

Next Unveiling Presentation

You are invited to the Jackson unveiling presentation to hear researchers Matthew Kauffman of the University of Wyoming’s Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and Hall Sawyer of Western Ecosystem Techonology, Inc. along with National Geographic photographer, Joe Riis, on June 24th in Jackson.

For More Information

1.       The Mule Deer Migration Assessment can be found here (big file, will take a bit to download):

2.       Casper Star Tribune did a three day series related to migration corridors. On Sunday, April 20th, WWF’s Steve Kilpatrick, was quoted in the mule deer migration story -

3.       The Wyoming Migration Initiative – created to connect migration research with groups working on wildlife issues.

4.       National Geographic Video -

Wyofile article -

The Wyoming Sportsmen's Alliance gathered in Cheyenne, Wyoming on December 3, 2013 to visit with WY Governor Mead to discuss issues impacting access, opportunity, youth education, conservation and the ever important investment made by sportsmen to manage Wyoming's wildlife.

Pictured left to right: Scott Christy (Trout Unlimited), Joshua Coursey (Muley Fanatic Foundation), Steve Kilpatrick (Wyoming Wildlife Federation), Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, Matthew Copeland (National Wildlife Federation), Neil Thagard (Theordore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership), Buzz Hettick (Back Country Hunters and Anglers), and Mike Porter (Wild Sheep Foundation).

Recent News


Upcoming Events:

March 22, 2014 - Flaming Gorge Banquet (Washam, Wyoming)

April 12, 2014 - Kemmerer Banquet (Kemmerer, Wyoming)

May 10, 2014 - Denver Banquet (Denver, Colorado)

May 17, 2014 - Laramie Spring Fling (Laramie, Wyoming)

November15, 2014 - Southeast Wyoming Banquet (Cheyenne, Wyoming)

December 13, 2014 - Cowboy Christmas Ball (Green River, Wyoming)

Fresh Solutions

Mule deer populations are continuously diminishing in Wyoming and througout the west due to poor habitat and an increase in predators. With the help of Muley Fanatic Foundation and other conservation groups, many mule deer projects are being funded. Muley Fanatic Foundation has currently allocated over $400,000 in mule deer habitat, predator controls, youth education, and research projects.