Big Game Animal

shining a light on survival in wyoming’s harsh climates

Wyoming is home to some of the longest intact big game migrations on the planet. But long or short, animals must move across the landscape to survive.

Wildlife

Connectivity

Big game animal migration, and its challenges in today’s world, is an area of emphasis for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Learn what the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is doing to improve Wyoming's wildlife movements.

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Big Game Animal Migration

Why should migration be
important to you?

Let’s put you in the world of a mule deer to answer that question. You may discover humans and deer have more in common than you think.

Summer Range

Moving to better habitat

You like to go on vacation in the summer, right? Perhaps somewhere warm, relaxing and with everything you need to be happy and comfortable.

In a deer's world, this vacation is called summer range, which is typically in higher elevations where food is abundant.

Stopover

Refuel and recharge

Let’s say your vacation is a camping trip into the mountains, and a spot you have to walk a long way to get to. Typically, you would take a break during your hike to rest, have something to eat and drink some water.

This reflects the next step in a deer's migration. Stopovers are locations consistently used by big game animals to rest and feed while migrating. Stopover areas are important for ensuring animals have the energy to continue migrating and reach seasonal ranges in sufficient physical condition.

Bottleneck

Habitat fragmentation

Animals move daily and seasonally to survive. Humans do, too, but we have different modes of transportation to get from here to there. When obstacles are in our way, we usually can get around them somehow, someway.

Animals are smart, but their migration to different habitats have been engrained through generations to get to areas they know will provide the nourishment they need to survive. When those locations are blocked or have obstacles, they don’t process that information like a human and simply go another way – at least not right away.

Every Calorie Counts

Game animals enter an energy deficit state during the winter that depletes their fat reserves as they cope with the elements. The more stress these animals endure, whether it is from nature or humans, it decreases their chances of surviving the winter.

The stronger and healthier these animals are coming out of winter, the better chance they have to live and reproduce throughout the rest of the year.

Today's

Continued Work

 

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department continues to study wildlife migration to conserve these historic routes now and into the future.

Collecting Data

Biologists collect data from dozens of collars annually on mule deer, pronghorn, elk, bighorn sheep and moose. This advanced GPS technology confirms what we’ve known for decades — thousands of wildlife use the same migration routes to move between winter and summer range each year.

Maps & Data

Focused Management

With GPS collar data, Game and Fish and our partners can prioritize where to focus well over $2 million committed for better management of habitat within migration corridors and other important seasonal habitats.

Corridor Designation

Wildlife Habitat Management Areas

Game and Fish manages 450,000 acres, called Wildlife Habitat Management Areas, throughout the state where wildlife needs are prioritized and in some cases they are positioned where migrating wildlife can rest and feed undisturbed during migration or winter seasons.

WHMA'S
 
 

Navigating Migration

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department seeks to maintain or improve big game migration corridors by working with land management agencies and partners in the private sector.

Migration in the News

Migration Videos

Governor's Wildlife Migration Advisory Group

Access the Advisory Group maps, documents, meeting notes and recordings
Wildlife Migration Advisory Group