The Wildlife Migration Project
A Bar A Ranch, Big Creek Ranch, and State Line Ranch
The Wildlife Migration Project is an ongoing conservation and storytelling project designed to provide a deeper understanding of wildlife movements across the landscapes of A Bar A, Big Creek, and State Line Ranches. This landscape spans from North Park, Colorado through the Upper North Platte Valley in Wyoming and provides important habitats for hundreds of species of wildlife. The project uses visual data, gathered through motion activated cameras, to provide insights to wildlife behaviors in key areas across the ranch landscape.
A key species of interest for the project is pronghorn, an iconic western animal which thrives across the ranches. Pronghorn are fascinating and unique, built for speed and evolved to outrun ancient predators like the American cheetah. They have existed on the western landscape for thousands of years and have an appearance unlike any of their fellow ungulates, making them unmistakable on the western prairie. Pronghorn are a regular sight across the ranches, seeking its healthy habitats that have been preserved through decades of land stewardship.
Landscape connectivity is a key factor that enables animals like pronghorn to move freely across their range and survive all seasons in rugged terrain and extreme climate conditions. Just as many birds fly south as winter approaches, western wildlife like pronghorn, deer, and elk move from one landscape to another when winter weather drives them to milder climates and lower elevations in search of food and water sources. The open spaces of A Bar A, Big Creek, and State Line Ranches provide large intact landscapes, promoting freedom of movement for migrating wildlife.
Visual data is collected using tools such as motion activated cameras to provide the ranches with a deeper understanding of wildlife behaviors and movements. These images provide managers with a new tool for understanding the wildlife with whom we share these landscapes.
The cameras deployed for this project require monthly maintenance such as battery and memory card swaps. The data is then downloaded, sorted, and organized in an archive for later analysis and sharing. Camera checks can be a challenge during the winter months when much of the landscape is covered with snow. The cameras are accessed by snowshoeing and cross-country skiing and sometimes they need to be dug out from deep snow drifts!
How will the data be used?
The cameras have captured far more data than ever imagined and ranges from eagles to bighorn sheep, mountain lions to black bears, and many of Wyoming and Colorado’s ungulate species like mule deer, pronghorn, elk, and moose. The cameras have been strategically stationed in key areas across the ranches since the fall of 2019, capturing wildlife through all seasons of the year.
The data gathered from the cameras are used to identify key areas on the ranches that could be modified to encourage freedom of movement. Projects may include fencing changes and other habitat improvements.
The images are also a wonderful educational tool providing insight into interesting wildlife behaviors that occur on the ranches during all seasons of the year!
We look forward to sharing periodic updates as the project continues to unfold! Stay tuned for updates on social media.
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