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UW’s Monteith Shop Produces Film on the Struggles of Collared Mule Deer

September 28, 2022
woman beside a fawn
Wyoming Range Mule Deer Project doctoral student Rebekah Rafferty, from Solvang, Calif., takes notes on F014’s newest fawn earlier this year. A new short film produced by the Monteith Shop, in the University of Wyoming’s Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, features obstacles the deer, known as F014, faces. (Kevin Monteith Photo)

A new short film produced by the Monteith Shop in the University of Wyoming’s Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources -- along with other collaborators -- is now debuting on the Vimeo platform.

The film “The Road Less Traveled” chronicles the struggle of mule deer F014 as she raises offspring. The 10.5-minute short film also features the researchers who study her and the conservation organizations working to make F014’s world safer for her and the public.

The film is available on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/748122219.

“With much thanks to our partners that have made the Wyoming Range Mule Deer Project possible, we have the privilege to tell part of F014’s story in her annual quest to survive and rear offspring. And, most importantly, to learn from it,” says UW Professor Kevin Monteith, who also is a Wyoming Excellence Chair.

Though F014 had succeeded in raising her 2021 fawn at 10 months old, that fawn was killed on a highway crossing that has historically been deadly for wildlife.

“While the fate of F014’s fawn is a somber reminder of how our presence can make things harder for mule deer, it also comes at a time when solutions are at the ready, and momentum is promising,” Monteith adds.

Highway collisions with wildlife are dangerous and costly. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department reports between $44 million and $52 million in wildlife and personal injury costs yearly.

“On average, every year in Wyoming, there are about 7,500 big-game collisions with vehicles,” says Corinna Riginos, director of science at The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming.

She reminds viewers in the film, “It’s a clear problem with a clear solution.”

Tayler LaSharr, a Glendale, Ariz., UW Ph.D. student in the Monteith Shop, says mule deer and humans have a connected and complex relationship.

man carrying a satellite tracker in the mountains
UW Professor Kevin Monteith uses radio telemetry to find F014’s newest fawn, which was born on the Fourth of July. (Rebekah Rafferty Photo)

“Our roads, developments and infrastructure are weaved throughout their migration routes and seasonal ranges, and it is imperative that we find ways to coexist with these animals in a way that allows them to move as naturally through the landscape as possible,” LaSharr says. “Crossing structures do just that -- they are incredibly effective at both retaining these incredible migrations and significantly reducing wildlife collisions on our highways.”

Max Benz filmed the video through 7Nineteen Productions and was supported by the Muley Fanatic Foundation, the WYldlife Fund and the Monteith Shop. Other contributors are the Muley Fanatic Foundation, the WYldlife Fund, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, The Nature Conservancy, Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, and the Wyoming Department of Transportation.

For more information, email Rhiannon Jakopak, Monteith Shop outreach coordinator and research scientist, at rjakopak@uwyo.edu.

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