Fall migration in full swing as ungulates hoof it for winter grounds

WYOMING – It’s fall and animals are on the move. Where are they all going and why? At Buckrail, we can’t stop studying informative maps put out by the Wyoming Migration Initiative (some of them using ancient data) that show where deer, elk, and antelope disperse every autumn to find more hospitable winters.

In the spring, ungulates “surf the green wave,” moving and munching with new growth into the high country.

Fall in Wyoming means the mule deer migration is starting. Mark Thonhoff with BLM was out along the Red Desert to Hoback corridor recently. He snapped this nice photo of a group of mule deer moving along the foothills of the Winds. They had just squeezed through the Fremont Lake bottleneck near Pinedale. (Mark Thonhoff)

Now, in fall, elk have mostly traded their longer, historic migration to more southern climes like the Red Desert for a shorter run to the grocery store at one of the more than 20 feedgrounds in and around the Jackson Hole region.

Mule deer and pronghorn still hoof it quite a ways—most headed down the Hoback Canyon for the Pinedale/Rock Springs region.

Wyoming Migration Initiative is a Wyoming-based collaborative of biologists, photographers, mapmakers, and writers working to research ungulate migration. Their mission is to advance understanding, appreciation, and conservation of Wyoming’s migratory ungulates by conducting innovative research and sharing scientific information through public outreach.

A field technician uses a radio antenna to locate a mule deer in the Upper Hoback Basin during the 2016 field season. Modern GPS collars also broadcast radio frequencies so that biologists can easily locate animals in the field, where they don’t have access to realtime GPS location data. (Samantha Dwinnell)

For those who can make it:

Sheridan Stationery, Books and Gallery will host a book signing with Joe Riis and Emiline Ostlind on Saturday from 11am to 1pm.

Riis is a National Geographic contributing photographer and photography fellow at the Wyoming Migration Initiative. He has been working in the Greater Yellowstone area since early 2008, focusing primarily on wildlife migration.

He and Ostlind will sign copies of the book “Greater Yellowstone Migrations” at the downtown bookstore.

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