Visitors to Wyoming stand a good chance of seeing mule deer and elk while touring the state, and may even be lucky enough to spot bighorn sheep or moose, but the migrations of these and other ungulates are in widespread decline across the globe. At the next Draper Natural History Museum Lunchtime Expedition, Dr. Matthew Kauffman discusses the issue in a talk titled Wyoming’s Ungulate Migrations: Ecology and Conservation amid Changing Landscapes.
“Because of its wide-open spaces, Wyoming still harbors many of its long-distance migrations,” says Kauffman, “but the landscapes on which they depend are rapidly changing.” The free lecture takes place Thursday, May 1, 12:15 in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s Coe Auditorium. “Long-term drought, energy development, residential development, and expanding predator populations are factors that now challenge our state’s migratory ungulates,” he adds.
Working with his graduate students at the University of Wyoming, Kauffman helps researchers better understand why and how ungulates migrate. In the talk, he shares what they have learned through recent studies involving mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, and moose throughout Wyoming. He explores how migratory populations are being altered by a variety of factors, in particular drought and energy development.
Kauffman, director of the Wyoming Migration Initiative—the mission of which is to conduct research and outreach to better understand and conserve Wyoming’s ungulate migrations—wraps up his talk by discussing some of the recent efforts to better manage these migrations in the state.
Kauffman is also Director of the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit of the Department of Zoology and Physiology at the University of Wyoming. He and his graduate students study the influence of habitat condition, drought, predation, human disturbance, and energy development on elk, wolves, moose, mule deer, and bighorn sheep in Wyoming. The research program deals with the ecology and management of animal migration, with a focus on the ungulate herds that migrate seasonally across Wyoming’s vast landscapes.
For more information on Kauffman’s talk and the full Lunchtime Expedition series, visit the Draper’s programs page, or e-mail Dr. Charles Preston or call him at 307-578-4078. The June 5 lecture features John Byers with Speedsters Across the Floor of the Sky: A Year in the Life of North America’s Fastest Animal—the Pronghorn. The Draper’s Lunchtime Expeditions series is supported in part by Sage Creek Ranch.
Since 1917, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West has been committed to the greatness and growth of the American West, keeping western experiences alive. The Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, weaves the varied threads of the western experience—history and myth, art and Native culture, firearms, and the nature and science of Yellowstone—into the rich panorama that is the American West. The Center of the West has been honored with numerous awards, including the prestigious 2012 National Tour Association’s Award for “favorite museum for groups,” the 2013 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, and, most recently, one of the “Top 10 Must See Western Museums” by True West magazine. For additional information, visit centerofthewest.org or the Center’s Facebook page.