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The Longest Deer Migration

21st Jan 2015

mule deer

*Adapted from an article by The Salt Lake Tribune

Back in the winter of 2011, biologist Hall Sawyer chose 40 mule deer in the Laramie, Wyoming area and put tracking collars on them. Within the next few years, he expected them to not wander far and to find them relatively close to the Red Desert where he tagged them. What he discovered, however, was quite the opposite:

In the spring of 2012, half of the deer decided to travel north. Once they reached 40 miles and ended up at the edge of the Wind River Range, they continued on and moved more than 60 miles. As the snow melted, they grazed on new grass and continued north until they reached Fremont Lake. Some of the deer swam across the lake and by late July, they could be found at the Hoback Basin and in the nearby mountains (50 miles from Fremont Lake).

While most of the deer stayed in the Hoback area, some traveled about 20 miles more to the Snake River Range. Sawyer tracked the mule deer the entire way and by the time he collected the collars from the deer in 2013, he discovered that they had migrated about 150 miles from the Red Desert to the Hoback Basin – the longest deer migration ever recorded in the lower 48 United States.

In addition to deer, Sawyer and his team have also studied the migrations of moose, bighorn sheep, and elk in western Wyoming.

Watch the video here.

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