Conserving Long Distance Migration for Mule Deer

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Published: 01 December 2023
Last edited: 01 December 2023
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Mule deer are an iconic migratory species of the western United States. Wyoming has some of the longest, most intact mule deer migrations in the lower 48 states. As anthropogenic influences increase and migrating ungulates continue to decline worldwide, a focus on protecting migration paths must be emphasized.


Mule deer travel across Wyoming to merge with 5,000 more mule deer for the winter where they continue their migration north. A pinch point known as the Fremont Lake ‘bottleneck’ was a serious threat to the migration path; the deer squeeze through a 400m wide area twice a year. The migration path through the bottleneck was blocked by a 2.5m tall woven wire fence. The area was identified as an important area for migration and was purchased by a national non-profit the Conservation Fund. The land was transfered to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and designated as the Luke Lynch Wildlife Habitat Management Area preventing the obstruction of the migration corridor.


North America
Scale of implementation
Desert ecosystems
Forest ecosystems
Hot desert
Temperate deciduous forest
Temperate evergreen forest
Cities and infrastructure
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Infrastructure maintenance
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Ecosystem loss
Infrastructure development
Sustainable development goals
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas


Fremont Lake, Wyoming


When designated as a habitat management area, the bottleneck was protected from any human development. Plans to develop lakeside cottages were blocked and prevents any future development. The 2.5m wire fence was redirected around the migration path to allow the 4,000-5,000 mule deer to navigate through the pinch point. This key migration area will maintain its function as a corridor for the mule deer migration and maintain the connectivity of the mule deer ranges.


This iconic species and all wildlife will benefit from this corridor, along with the people who depend on the ecosystem for their livelihood and recreation.

Contributed by

connectivity_43054's picture

IUCN WCPA Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group IUCN WCPA Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group

Other contributors

Matthew J. Kauffman
Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Holly Copeland
Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Hall Sawyer
Western EcoSystems Technology, Inc.