Statewide research program tracks Wyoming wildlife migrations

Researchers with the Wyoming Migration Initiative work with an elk captured in March near Dubois. The animal will be analyzed, collared and released so its movements can be tracked.

Springtime in Wyoming brings melting snow and the first shoots of green vegetation peeking through a landscape left barren by winter. For deer, elk, moose and other migrating ungulates, the change in seasons prompts a familiar journey in search of greener pastures. But spring is also an exceptionally busy time for wildlife researcher Matthew Kauffman and his colleagues, as they fan out across the state in an effort to track and document as many of those migrations as possible. For nearly three years, biologists with the Wyoming Migration Initiative have followed elk around Dubois, trailed moose through the Snowy Mountains, pursued mule deer across the Red Desert and worked to chart the movements of other herds on the move. Continue Reading →

Researchers offer inside look at wildlife captures

Researchers with the Wyoming Migration Initiative post images form their work on social media channels.

Wildlife researcher Matthew Kauffman leads the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, and works on the Wyoming Migration Initiative. Kauffman and his fellow researchers go to great lengths to share their work via social media outlets, allowing anyone to follow along as they capture and release animals, or go behind the scenes to see the gear, preparation and technology involved in their research. “The idea is to give the public a closer view of how the work is done. The captures and the action that go with them are a pretty exciting part of the research,” he said. “But we’re trying to create a story that people can follow along with and also learn more about the objectives of the studies.” Here are a few selected postings from Twitter showing spring captures that are part of Kauffman’s research. Continue Reading →

Grand Teton motorists warned to slow down during big game migration

Elk and other wildlife are moving along spring migration routes around Grand Teton National Park and nearby areas.

Wildlife have begun their annual migration from wintering areas toward summer ranges located in Grand Teton National Park. Because spring migration appears to be fully underway, motorists are advised to drive with extra caution during the coming weeks, and be alert for animals wandering near park roadways, especially Highway 26/89/191 (Hwy 89) and the Antelope Flats/Kelly scenic loop roads. Early this week, elk started to drift north from the National Elk Refuge. With the receding snowpack, elk have fanned out across the sagebrush flats north of the Gros Ventre River. Continue Reading →

Group meets in Cody to discuss greater Yellowstone issues

Federal land managers within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are inviting the public to join them in a conversation on April 29 in Cody, Wyoming, to help them assess ecosystem issues and to build stronger relationships in the future. The Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee (GYCC) is a group of eleven federal land managers who work together to coordinate management on more than 15 million acres of public land in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Continue Reading →

Mysterious cave in Yellowstone at center of legal dispute

A cave found along the boundary of Yellowstone National Park was revealed after a shift in basalt columns similar to those found in the park's northern range.

Court filings made public on Monday reference a treasure trove of one-of-a-kind artifacts described as an "American Pompeii" at the center of a legal dispute between the federal government and a Montana rancher, lifting the veil on a long-secret research project at the edge of Yellowstone National Park. At stake is ownership of hundreds or perhaps thousands of well-preserved animal remains, including fossils of long-extinct mammals, as well as what researchers believe are among the earliest tools and ceremonial objects ever found in the region. Human remains may also be present at the site, based on motions filed on behalf of tribal interests. Continue Reading →

Departing Yellowstone spokesman reflects on decade tackling park’s tough issues

Al Nash has left the National Park Service after 9 years as the spokesman for Yellowstone National Park.

One of the first things Al Nash can remember about Yellowstone National Park is the smell. "I remember how stinky it was—that sulfur smell," Nash said, recalling a trip to Yellowstone with his parents when he was a young child, more than 50 years ago. "I remember my mom shooing my sister and I into the car while my dad was trying to get a photo of a black bear in a pull-out," he said. Those early Yellowstone memories came flooding back this month as Nash, the chief of public affairs for Yellowstone since 2006, reflected on nearly a decade in that role just before his last day on the job March 18. Continue Reading →

Grand Teton road opens to bikes before summer auto season

Bicyclists and others may use roads in Grand Teton National Park starting Friday, March 27. Roads open to cars May 1. (NPS photo)

Grand Teton National Park road crews cut through the snow cover on the Teton Park Road between the Taggart Lake parking area and Signal Mountain Lodge—a distance of 15 miles—and completed this portion of the annual spring plowing operations on Friday, March 27. The Teton Park Road has melted down to pavement in most places and is now open to non-motorized recreation such as walking, biking, and roller-blading.. Springtime visitors can look forward to access on this park road for nearly five weeks before it opens to private vehicles for the summer travel season on Friday, May 1, 2015. Continue Reading →

Speakers chosen for April 17 TEDx conference in Cody

A collared deer leaps away from conservation biologist Matthew Kauffman after being captured and processed this month as part of the Wyoming Migration Initiative. Kauffman will be among eight speakers featured April 17 during TEDx Cody, a conference focused on short presentations centered around a theme of "Depicting the West."

A diverse roster of speakers will explore topics ranging from Wyoming's big game migrations to leadership secrets of the Wild West next month as part of Cody's first TEDx conference. TEDx Cody is a local, self-organized event licensed under the nonprofit TED organization that holds globally heralded conferences featuring short talks aimed at communicating powerful "ideas worth spreading." Cody's conference will feature eight speakers discussing the event's theme: "Depicting the West." Conference organizer John Wells said the April 17 event will "reflect a cultural shift under way at the heart of the Western experience." Continue Reading →

Pneumonia kills dozens of bighorn sheep north of Yellowstone Park

Wildlife officials in Montana are concerned about a pneumonia outbreak killing bighorn sheep near the North Gate of Yellowstone National Park.

Wildlife officials in Montana remain concerned about an ongoing pneumonia outbreak among bighorn sheep near the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park, and have canceled the lone permit that would have been issued for a fall sheep hunt in the area. The move came after wildlife biologists conducted an aerial survey Sunday of the area near Gardiner, Mont., just outside Yellowstone's North Gate. After counting 89 healthy sheep last year, Sunday's count yielded 55 sheep, as well as another dead animal and a number of sick ones. Continue Reading →

Public input sought for Yellowstone bison management plan

A bison stands near road signs in downtown Gardiner, Mont. in January 2006. (Jim Peaco/NPS - click to enlarge)

The National Park Service and the State of Montana will begin preparing an Environmental Impact Statement for a new plan to manage a wild and migratory populations of Yellowstone-area bison, while minimizing the risk of brucellosis transmission between bison and livestock to the extent practicable. A Notice of Intent has been published in the Federal Register. The new plan is needed because conditions have changed since implementation of the Interagency Bison Management Plan began in 2001, including agency experience in managing bison and new science. Continue Reading →