Ungulate Migrations of the Western United States, Volume 1

Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5101
By: , and 



Across the western United States, many ungulate herds must migrate seasonally to access resources and avoid harsh winter conditions. Because these migration paths cover vast landscapes (in other words migration distances up to 150 miles [241 kilometers]), they are increasingly threatened by roads, fencing, subdivisions, and other development. Over the last decade, many new tracking studies have been conducted on migratory herds, and analytical methods have been developed that allow for population-level corridors and stopovers to be mapped and prioritized. In 2018, the U.S. Geological Survey assembled a Corridor Mapping Team to provide technical assistance to western states working to map bison, elk, moose, mule deer, and pronghorn migrations using existing Global Positioning System data. Led by the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, the team consists of federal scientists, university researchers, and biologists and analysts from participating state agencies. 

In its first year, the team has worked to develop standardized analytical and computational methods and a workflow applicable to datasets typically collected by state agencies. In 2019, the team completed analyses necessary to map corridors, stopovers, routes and winter ranges in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. A total of 26 corridors, 16 migration routes, 25 stopovers, and 9 winter ranges were mapped across these states and are included in this report. This report and associated data release provide the means for the habitats required for migration to be taken into account by state and federal transportation officials, land and wildlife managers, planners, and other conservationists working to maintain big-game migration in the western states.

Suggested Citation

Kauffman, M.J., Copeland, H.E., Berg, J., Bergen, S., Cole, E., Cuzzocreo, M., Dewey, S., Fattebert, J., Gagnon, Gelzer, E., Geremia, C., Graves, T., Hersey, K., Hurley, M., Kaiser, J., Meacham, J., Merkle, J., Middleton, A., Nuñez, T., Oates, B., Olson, D., Olson, L., Sawyer, H., Schroeder, C., Sprague, S., Steingisser, A., Thonhoff, M., 2020, Ungulate migrations of the western United States, Volume 1 (ver. 1.1, December 2023): U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2020–5101, 119 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20205101.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

ISSN: 2328-031X (print)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Mule Deer
  • Pronghorn
  • Elk
  • Moose
  • Bison
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1. Methods
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Ungulate migrations of the western United States, Volume 1
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2020-5101
ISBN 978-1-4113-4379-5
DOI 10.3133/sir20205101
Edition Verion 1.1: December 203; Version 1.0: November 2020
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Office of the AD Ecosystems
Description Report: xiv, 119 p.; Data Release
Country Canada, Mexico, United States
Online Only (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details