Longest mule deer migration in the lower 48 – Red Desert to Hoback Basin (RD2H)
The model for conserving a big game migration corridor is the Red Desert to Hoback Basin (RD2H) route, which spans 150 miles. It is the longest mule deer migration route in the lower 48! WWF just launched a new website on this program, www.rd2h.org.
The Wyoming Migration Initiative at UW is the science lead on this project. WWF’s work involves what has become known as the conservation “Partnership” consisting of 14 nonprofit organizations. We are working together to conserve this corridor and developing measures we can then apply to other corridors in the state.
Science role: Scientists with the Wyoming Migration Initiative radio-collared deer to document the RD2H corridor. The conservation Partnership is putting that scientific knowledge into action. We are working with private landowners to help conserve this migration. They are instrumental in this effort because 25 percent of the corridor goes through private land. Fencing and conserving habitat are the current focus areas. We are immediately addressing animal mortality along this route caused by existing, not so wildlife-friendly fencing, and through fencing modifications based on Game & Fish recommendations. We recently received funding to purchase the fencing materials, but we need donations to support on-the-ground work to make the modifications and replacements. This outreach program also includes a landowner and public information campaign to explain the importance of conserving these important seasonal habitats. Good quality winter range and summer reproductive habitats are essential to the long term healthy of Wyoming’s big game species. The connectivity between these habitats – on the migration routes – is the third essential component. Ensuring animals can move between their seasonal ranges each year is one of the most profound conservation actions we can take for our big game.
Ask: $25,000 DONATE – Migrations
The Partnership: Fourteen organizations and private citizen representation form the core of the Partnership, representing sportsmen, conservationists, land trusts, landowners, and science. Together, they bring a wealth of information, resources and skills to address the complex issues that long distance migrations face.
Migrations Management: After a year-long process with stakeholders, in the spring of 2016 the Fish and Game Commission adopted a set of definitions for the state’s big game migrations. These definitions will help mitigate the impacts of development and are now included in the Game & Fish Department’s wildlife seasonal range definitions and recognized in the Commission’s Mitigation Policy. Also developed was a process for making recommendations to land management agencies and other decision makers on how to minimize the impacts to migration corridors caused by various types of development.
The Wyoming Wildlife Federation was a major player in this Game & Fish stakeholder effort to craft the migration definitions. But more work remains for this important management strategy for big game migrations. WWF will continue its role by working with Game & Fish to develop a map for designated corridors that fall within the state and one that is based on the data and the definitions approved by the Commission. WWF will also work to help craft recommendations for specific management actions that can be tied to these corridors.
Click here to read our op-ed on migrations.
Red Desert to Hoback Deer Migration (.pdf), University of Wyoming