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Ungulate Research

University of Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Each spring and fall, ungulates (hooved animals, like elk, bison, and mule deer) move throughout the western United States in sync with critical food resources. They play an important role in ecosystem function by influencing vegetation communities and forming the prey base for large carnivores. Additionally, ungulates provide economic benefits to regional communities through tourism and hunting, and hold important cultural significance for many Tribal communities.

But as the human footprint in the western United States expands, these species increasingly face obstacles such as new subdivisions, energy development, impermeable fences, and high-traffic roads on their long journeys. These barriers can increase mortality from vehicle collisions and disrupt the historical routes used by ungulates, threatening the long-term persistence of existing migrations. Biologists and managers are increasingly turning to GPS collars as a critical tool to identify ungulates’ migrations, seasonal ranges, and to pinpoint those barriers. With the University of Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, I help map some of these migrations and answer questions about how human development affects ungulates' seasonal movements across the western United States.

Mark Gocke

Mark Gocke

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Ungulate Migrations of the Western U.S.

Volume 3, published December 2022

In 2018, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) established the Corridor Mapping Team (CMT), a collaboration between USGS and participating State and Federal wildlife management agencies, as well as numerous Tribal Nations. Together, CMT maps ungulate movements throughout the western United States within the USGS’s Ungulate Migrations of the Western United States report series. The first volume was published in 2020 and encompassed 45 herds across five states. Volume 2 was published in 2022 and contained migrations and seasonal ranges from an additional 65 herds. This report, Volume 3 in the series, details migrations and seasonal ranges from an additional 45 herds. In addition to the included herd maps, this volume provides an overview of the many ways the mapping efforts associated with CMT are being integrated into local conservation, management, and policy throughout the western United States. Read the report, download data, or explore the migration routes and ranges interactively!

Ungulate Migrations of the Western U.S.

Volume 4, published April 2024

This report, Volume 4 in the series, details migrations and seasonal ranges from an additional 33 herds. With this latest volume, the report series includes details and maps of the migrations and seasonal ranges for a total of 182 unique herds across 10 states. In addition to the included herd maps, this new report highlights how migration maps can be used for conservation and management amid changing landscapes. For example, when solar farms are built in an ungulate’s range, they can negatively impact habitat and create barriers to movement for resident and migratory animals. The maps featured in the report series have previously been used to inform leasing decisions for oil and gas development, and they can also provide a key resource to help site future renewable energy projects that minimize effects to critical habitat. Read the report, download data, or explore the migration routes and ranges interactively!

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