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UW to Host Forum on Science and Policy of Big Game Migrations

October 14, 2015
line of antelope in the snow crawling under a fence with a town in the background
Some of the largest known migrations of deer, elk and pronghorn take place in Wyoming and the West. (Joe Riis Photo)

A forum on the science, management and policy of sustaining long distance big game migrations in the West will take place Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 9-10, at the University of Wyoming Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center.

The forum is open to the public and costs $90 to attend. Student registration is $25. Registration, speaker list and more information about the forum is available at

The UW Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources and the Wyoming Migration Initiative (WMI) co-host the forum. Participation will be capped at 300 attendees.

The event will begin with the emerging science of big game migrations, including the recent discovery of some of the longest documented overland migrations in North America. The forum’s second day will explore the role of public and private lands in sustaining long distance migrations.

State and federal agency staff, outfitters, ranchers, energy industry representatives, elected leaders, conservation organizations, planners and other groups will provide a broad perspective on the implications of migration management. The forum is structured to facilitate discussion among panelists and audience members to foster engagement, understanding and collaboration.

Jim Lyons, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s deputy assistant secretary for Land and Minerals Management, and Robert Bonnie, undersecretary for the Department of Agriculture, are scheduled to speak on the importance of federal lands for big game migrations. National Geographic photographer and UW alumnus Joe Riis will provide the lunchtime keynote and slideshow on migrations in the West.

Some of the longest known migrations of deer, elk and pronghorn still occur in Wyoming and other places in the West. Yet, globally, many migrations are threatened by land use change and human development.

“The science has advanced to the point where we felt it would be beneficial to get people together to talk about these incredible migrations, the challenges they face and the potential conservation solutions that exist,” says WMI Director Matthew Kauffman, a UW professor and U.S. Geological Survey scientist.

“We are learning that migration corridors crisscross every jurisdiction and land management type,” says Ruckelshaus Institute Director Nicole Korfanta. “That means to sustain culturally and economically important big game populations requires tremendous communication and coordination across boundaries.”

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