(Pinedale, WY) – This winter a Game and Fish-contracted wildlife capture crew deployed 75 GPS collars on doe pronghorn in the Sublette herd, which covers much of southwest Wyoming north of Interstate-80. This was in addition to 19 collars that were deployed last winter in an effort to fill in ‘holes’ in an existing dataset.
The Sublette pronghorn herd is among the Cowboy State’s largest, currently numbering some 35,000 animals with a herd population objective of 48,000. In multiple studies between 2004 and 2017, nearly 600 individual pronghorn from the Sublette herd were fitted with GPS satellite tracking collars, bringing to light one of the longest intact big game migration corridors in North America. It was discovered that some pronghorn in the Sublette herd seasonally move nearly 200 miles between summer ranges in Grand Teton National Park and winter ranges north of Rock Springs.
With the large number of animals that have been collared over the years, the dataset for the Sublette herd is very robust. However, wildlife managers and researchers realized there were still important portions of the herd where no pronghorn had been collared.
These newly-collared animals will provide the fine-scale location data needed to not only delineate migration routes, but also reveal important stopover areas where animals stock up on nutrients along the way. The data will also inform managers on where to locate local conservation measures such as fence modifications and improved highway wildlife crossings.
The Department is currently reviewing this large dataset and following the steps outlined in the Governor’s Executive Order 2020-1 to evaluate the Sublette pronghorn herd’s seasonal movements for potential identification or designation as a migration corridor.