Elk NetworkElk Migration Researcher Named RMEF Conservationist of the Year

News Releases | June 12, 2019

June 12, 2019

Elk Migration Researcher Named RMEF Conservationist of the Year

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is proud to announce that Dr. Matt Kauffman is the recipient of its Conservationist of the Year Award for 2018. 

Kauffman is a U.S. Geological Survey research scientist and the lead scientist of the Wyoming Migration Initiative, a University of Wyoming-based collaborative of biologists, mapmakers, artists, photographers and writers working to research ungulate migration and share that information with the public.

“Perhaps no one has done more to further the scientific understanding of elk migration than Dr. Kauffman,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “His past and continuing research shines a light on landscape-wide wildlife movements not previously captured or recorded in such a comprehensive manner.”

RMEF’s support of the Wyoming Migration Initiative dates back to 2006 when it worked with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to provide funding for research that eventually led to the initiative. 

Since 2013, RMEF provided more than $243,000 on 14 projects while formally working alongside Kauffman. Key accomplishments include the Wild Migrations: Atlas of Wyoming’s Ungulates, Elk Migrations of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Invisible Boundaries: Exploring Yellowstone’s Great Animal Migrations, Migration Assessment of elk herds in various parts of Wyoming and other tools that allow researchers and the public to view and understand migrations.

“The 2018 Secretarial Order 3362 focusing on conservation and big game migration corridors can in no small part be traced back to the Wyoming Migration Initiative and its ground-breaking work. Wyoming is known to have the best migration data of any of the western states,” added Henning.

Currently an assistant professor at the University of Wyoming, Kauffman leads the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit where he and his team of graduate students carry out a wide range of research on elk, moose, wolves, deer and bighorn sheep.

Kauffman grew up in rural southern Oregon, the son of a horse logger and an elementary schoolteacher. He has an undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Oregon and a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz.  

Kauffman will receive the award at the upcoming RMEF Elk Camp, presented by YETI, on July 11.