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Mule Deer Doe's Journey Over Teton Range: Grand Teton Investigates New Migration Route

Wikipedia Creative Commons, by Dcrjsr

A new mule deer migration route has been discovered crossing 45 miles over the Teton Range into Idaho. The discovery of the new migration route was confirmed this year when Grand Teton National Park collared and tracked several deer using GPS technology. Grand Teton Wildlife Biologist Sarah Dewey says they were amazed to see what lengths one doe went to get to her winter range.

“We got a deer that made her way around the north end of Jackson Lake, across the Snake River and then she climbed up and over the Tetons into the Teton River corridor in Idaho,” Dewey says. “And so that was really exciting to finally be able to detail one of these movements.”

But Dewey says documenting only one animal’s journey isn’t enough. They plan to confirm the new migration route by collaring another eight to ten deer each year. Mule deer numbers in the American West have dropped by about 40% in the last couple decades.  Dewey says a better understanding of where and why they migrate could help turn that around.

“This is really aimed at getting a detailed look at what the needs of the animals are, what routes they take, and what are potential obstacles along the way. Do they have to negotiate highways? Are there fences? Are there developments?”

She says they’ll continue their studies for the next few years.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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