Migratory mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) populations rely on seasonal ranges to meet their annual nutritional and energetic requirements. Because seasonal ranges often occur great distances apart and across a mix of vegetation types and land ownership, maintaining migration corridors to and from these ranges can be difficult, especially if managers do not have detailed information on mule deer and pronghorn seasonal movements. We captured, radiomarked, and monitored mule deer (n = 171) and pronghorn (n = 34) in western Wyoming to document seasonal distribution patterns and migration routes. Mule deer and pronghorn migrated 20-158 km and 116-258 km, respectively, between seasonal ranges. These distances represented the longest recorded migrations for either species. We identified a number of bottlenecks along the migration routes of mule deer and pronghorn, but the most critical appeared to be the 1.6-km-wide Trapper's Point bottleneck, which was used by both mule deer and pronghorn during their spring and autumn migrations. Housing developments and roadways apparently have reduced the effective width of this bottleneck to <0.8 km. We estimate 2,500-3,500 mule deer and 1,500-2,000 pronghorn move through the bottleneck twice a year during spring and autumn migrations. Identification and protection of migration corridors and bottlenecks will be necessary to maintain mule deer and pronghorn populations throughout their range.
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Mule deer and pronghorn migration in western Wyoming