Congress funds efforts to map wildlife migration patterns


The United States Geological Survey has published two volumes on the migration of ungulates, or hoofed mammals, in the western United States. The volumes highlight species needs such as connections between refuges and threats such as high traffic areas and oil and gas development.

The Biden administration canceled funding for wildlife migration mapping in its 2023 budget. Mapping proponents hope Congress will set aside five million dollars so the USGS can continue to work with stakeholders state and local on developing maps for big game species in the West.

Matt Kaufmann, a wildlife biologist at the USGS, points out that migratory species face more obstacles in the form of fences, traffic and development.

“Mapping gives us a roadmap to identify the threats that migrations face, as well as some of the conservation opportunities. And without a map, it’s really difficult to proactively manage and conserve these migrations,” Kaufmann said. .

Kaufmann says migrating animals travel through private lands, public lands and tribal reservations, making management complex. But he says herds of ungulates are important to western ecosystems, providing prey for large carnivores like wolves.

“Most of them are also harvestable game, and the harvestable surplus produced by migration provides millions of dollars in revenue to the national wildlife agencies that manage these herds, as well as billions of dollars in tourism revenue for the wildlife watchers.”


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