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UW-Produced Adventure, Conservation Film to Premiere at Banff Mountain Film Festival

October 4, 2019
three people with packs and skis hiking on a snowy mountainside
Tennessee Watson, a reporter for Wyoming Public Media; UW Research Scientist Samantha Dwinnell; and Anya Tyson, a naturalist and adventure scientist based in Montana, carry their packs through the Wyoming Range during an 85-mile-long journey following Deer 139’s migration path. They appear in a UW-produced documentary film that has been selected to premiere at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Alberta, Canada. (Jayme Dittmar Photo)

An adventure and conservation film detailing the 85-mile-long migration path of a Wyoming mule deer doe and the University of Wyoming biologist who has studied her has been selected to premiere at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Alberta, Canada, Nov. 3.

The film, “Deer 139,” follows UW Research Scientist Samantha Dwinnell and two friends as they hike, packraft and ski the migration route of a GPS-collared mule deer in search of deeper understanding about the connection these animals have to the landscapes where they live.

Dwinnell, along with Associate Professor Kevin Monteith and communications Coordinator Emilene Ostlind, all in the UW Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, produced the film. Filmmakers Morgan Heim and Jayme Dittmar directed the documentary. In addition to Dwinnell as the main character, the film also stars Tennessee Watson, a reporter for Wyoming Public Media; Anya Tyson, a naturalist and citizen scientist project manager based in Montana; and Deer 139 herself.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival selects documentaries about mountain culture, outdoor adventure and the environment through an international competition to screen every fall, and then sends many of the festival films on tour around the world throughout the year.

Following the Banff premiere, the film will have a free public screening Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. in the UW College of Education auditorium. Screenings in several western Wyoming communities are scheduled Nov. 8-12 and will be announced at a later date. Members of the film cast, the filmmakers and the producers will be present at each screening.

The Monteith Shop and the Ruckelshaus Institute, both within UW’s Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, produced the film as part of its mission to share new scientific understanding with a broad audience.

The 53-minute-long film follows the three adventurers as they travel Deer 139’s migration path on foot from her winter habitat in the Green River Basin, through the foothills of the Wyoming Range, over a high mountain pass to the Greys River, to summer habitat in the Salt River Range.

In between twisted ankles, David Attenborough impressions and mountaintop dance parties, the three women experience the challenges to long-distance migration in the modern world and gain new perspective about the value of interconnected landscapes. By considering the story of one specific animal, the doe known as Deer 139, they learn to see Wyoming’s backyard as not only a source of natural resources and a recreational playground, but also a place where wild animals have honed their existence over millennia to perfectly synchronize with a rugged and unforgiving landscape.

To view the film trailer and for more information, visit the website at www.deer139film.org.

The film team is still fundraising to reach its total budget, cover remaining costs associated with the film’s production, and ensure the completed film can reach wide audiences, Dwinnell says. She adds that supporters can donate securely online through the UW Foundation via the film website.

The film received major funding support from the National Geographic Society; the George B. Storer Foundation; the Knobloch Family Foundation; Ralph and Louise Haberfeld; the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation; the Wyoming Wildlife Foundation; the Wyoming Governor’s Big Game License Coalition; and the Wyoming Humanities Council.

Also providing support were the Muley Fanatic Foundation, including the Wyoming Range Chapter and the 10 Country Wyoming Chapter; the No Man’s Land Film Festival; the WILD Foundation; William Watson and Suzanne Welch; the Wyoming Migration Initiative; and several private contributors.

For more information, call Dwinnell at (507) 384-2903 or email sdwinnel@uwyo.edu.

Contact Us

Institutional Communications

Bureau of Mines Building, Room 137

Laramie

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-2929

Email: cbaldwin@uwyo.edu

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