Elk NetworkRMEF Commits $180,000 to Assist Elk Migration Research

Conservation , News Releases | December 15, 2021

MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation provided $180,000 in funding from its Torstenson Family Endowment to help continue critical elk migration corridor mapping across the West.

The grant to the University of Wyoming assists west-wide corridor mapping work, conducted collaboratively by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and western state wildlife agencies. The migration work is coordinated through the USGS Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, based on the campus in Laramie.

“Gaining additional scientific knowledge about where and how elk migrate identifies key movement routes, winter range and vital habitat to facilitate the identification and prioritization of threats and opportunities for conservation along migration corridors. Doing so helps game managers ensure strong, thriving populations for years to come,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “We recognize and express our appreciation to the broad coalition of state and federal biologists for their ongoing, concerted efforts.”

Recognizing the need for a standard approach to mapping migrations, the USGS created an ungulate corridor mapping team consisting of biologists and researchers from many western wildlife management agencies after the issuance of Secretarial Order 3362 in 2018.

The team compiled and issued its first volume in 2020 that features 42 migrations and nine winter ranges. Volume two is due out in February 2022 with 65 more migrations and 24 winter ranges.

This new funding will help researchers chart migration route data for 17 new elk herds and continue development of an online platform for managers and the public alike to view the corridors across the West.

“This support is testimony to what the western state wildlife agencies and the USGS have been able to accomplish through strong partnerships,” said Matt Kauffman, the USGS researcher leading the mapping team. “This funding will allow us to expand and accelerate our work in the coming year to map the most critical migration corridors.”

The grant funding will also help the mapping team work with state and federal partners to incorporate new and existing migration maps into conservation planning on both public and private lands.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded more than 37 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of more than 231,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 8.2 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.

Photo credit Gregory Nickerson and Travis Zaffarano – Wyoming Coop Unit