Elk NetworkNew Website Features Utah Wildlife Migrations

General | March 6, 2020

Below is a portion of a news release from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Utah is doing something that only a few other states are doing: real-time tracking of wildlife. And now some of that data will be available to the public via a new website that launched Tuesday, March 3, 2020. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is one of many partners offering funding and other support for the program.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) started its Wildlife Migration Initiative program in 2017 to better track and study the migration patterns of different wildlife and fish species in the state. Most of the data comes from animals wearing GPS tracking devices or from fish tagged with implanted transmitters. Utah is currently the only state that includes fish tracking in its migration initiative.

“Using GPS tracking data, our law enforcement officers were actually able to successfully locate and prosecute a poacher,” DWR Migration Initiative Coordinator Daniel Olson said. “We have also learned other interesting things. For example, there are deer that swim almost a mile across Flaming Gorge Reservoir as part of their annual migration. A lot of the information we gather from this tracking initiative is invaluable in helping us better manage wildlife.”

“This program has also shown us that some fish in the Colorado River have traveled over 900 miles and across state borders in search of suitable habitat to feed, spawn and escape predators,” DWR Aquatics Coordinator Don Wiley said. “That kind of information was not previously available and has been invaluable in helping us identify areas for habitat projects.”

Currently, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) biologists and its partners are tracking more than 2,800 animals across Utah, and those animals generate about 26,000 data points each day. There have been a total of 14 million location data points since the tracking began.

(Photo source: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)