Some of the most spectacular big game migrations in North America take place in the WLCI area. This includes America’s longest mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and pronghorn (Antllocapra Americana) migration routes. Wildlife migration routes and corridors are passages that allow movement between seasonal ranges and typically includes stop over sites that provide food and rest during migration. Migration strategies allow animals to maximize access to peak food sources and access to parturition areas. Migration also allows animals to reduce the risks of drought and harsh winter weather by moving to places with better conditions. WLCI is interested in migration routes and passages for all species, but its primary focus for landscapescale conservation actions is focused on mule deer and pronghorn. The health and maintenance of mule deer and pronghorn herds rely on the effective management of migration corridors and seasonal ranges.
Recent studies from WLCI partners and others have improved our knowledge and understanding of mule deer and pronghorn seasonal movement patterns and long distance migration patterns. These studies also identified numerous impediments that restrict or disrupt seasonal movement patterns and long distance migration. Restrictions or disruptions are often associated with changes in timing, rate, and direction of movement, passageway bottlenecks, and altered or limited stop over periods for rest and food. The most common impediments in southwest Wyoming are related to roads, fences, residential development, and energy development. WLCI supports numerous projects and activities that are designed to reduce issues associated with movement impediments, maintaining and improving seasonal ranges and stopover sites along migration routes, and using easements to ensure future connectivity. Removal of obsolete fences and converting fences to wildlife standards was identified by LPDTs as one of the most effective ways to link big game to migration corridors and crucial seasonal habitats, reduce adverse ecological effects of habitat fragmentation, and reduce wildlife stress, injury, and mortality. Fencing is also used to restrict movement of wildlife. This is usually done to guide big game to use underpasses and overpasses to cross roads. Monitoring of these crossings indicate that they are effectively allowing mule deer, pronghorn and other wildlife to safely cross roadways to access their seasonal ranges.