Wyoming ungulate migration is ramping up, as mule deer, pronghorn, elk and other species make the move from winter ranges to summer ranges in search of food. 

For years wildlife managers and researchers have documented seasonal migrations using GPS collars allowing them to map migration corridor use throughout the American west as detailed in a new report, Ungulate Migrations of the Western United States, Volume 2

Based on that data, researchers note that mule deer have been slow to start migrating this year. They’re not sure why, but it’s something they plan to study more, Gregory Nickerson, a filmmaker and writer with the Wyoming Migration Initiative, said. 

One hypothesis is that the milder winter with much less snowfall allowed animals to preserve more of their fat, making the need to reach greener pastures less urgent, according to Nickerson.  

The famous Red Desert-to-Hoback migration corridor — the longest mule deer migration ever recorded — is traveled by close to 5,000 deer each year. Some 1,000 start at the southern terminus of the corridor close to the town of Superior, but Nickerson said field researchers have observed only 20% of that herd starting to move north as of Wednesday.

Tennessee Watson

Tennessee Jane Watson is the state desk editor for WyoFile. She was a 2020 Nieman Abrams Fellow for Local Investigative Journalism and Wyoming Public Radio's education reporter. She lives in Laramie. Contact...

Leave a comment

Want to join the discussion? Fantastic, here are the ground rules: * Provide your full name — no pseudonyms. WyoFile stands behind everything we publish and expects commenters to do the same. * No personal attacks, profanity, discriminatory language or threats. Keep it clean, civil and on topic. *WyoFile does not fact check every comment but, when noticed, submissions containing clear misinformation, demonstrably false statements of fact or links to sites trafficking in such will not be posted. *Individual commenters are limited to three comments per story, including replies.

Your email address will not be published.