Back in 2018, the U.S. Geological Survey and several Western states formed the Corridor Mapping Team, a first-of-its-kind collaboration among state and federal wildlife biologists to map ungulate migrations.
Last week, the team published its first volume of maps, which document more than 40 big-game migration routes in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.
"I'm really proud of the team that worked across multiple agencies to transform millions of GPS locations into standardized migration maps," Matt Kauffman, lead author of the report and director of the USGS Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, said in a news release. "Many ungulate herds have been following the same paths across western landscapes since before the United States existed, so these maps are long overdue."
Mule deer, elk, pronghorn, moose and bison migrations have been disrupted as the human footprint expands across the West.
"They're encountering increasing traffic levels on our roads and highways," Kaufman told the Mountain West News Bureau. "They run into oil and gas development. And then increasingly in the West, some of these landscapes are being subdivided. And of course, once those landscapes are developed, they're much more difficult for animals to move through."
He said the maps will be a powerful tool in keeping wildlife corridors functional. Next year, the group expects to release a second volume that will detail even more corridors across Western states.
You can find an interactive map of the migrations here.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.