Preserving Antelope Migration in Grand Teton

Pronghorn

A Landowners' Guide to Fences and Wildlife

NPCA and its partners have published the publication "A Landowners' Guide to Fences and Wildlife" (PDF, 4.11 MB) to help landowners in Wyoming adopt a more wildlife friendly approach to their operations. Although the guide is orientated to Wyoming, the concepts are applicable for fences around the country. Two thousand copies were distributed to ranchers and homeowners thanks in part to a generous grant from Nature Valley. Read the Guide >

Long-Term Goal

Preserve the Grand Teton National Park pronghorn population by working to protect the historic migration from the Wyoming Upper Green River Valley into Grand Teton National Park. This will be accomplished through work to secure funding for conservation easements, political and community advocacy work, and educational outreach to help reduce human impacts and incompatible uses within the migration route.

Why Preserve the Migration?

Pronghorn antelope are known for their mass migrations that are the longest distances documented for any terrestrial mammal in the lower 48 states.

There is serious concern that the historic migration route that antelope have followed from Grand Teton National Park to the Upper Green River Valley for the past 6,000 years may be threatened as a result of blocked migration corridors due to energy development, commercial growth and residential sprawl. Along with the new ranchettes that fragment existing habitat, this increased development is bringing new fences, roads, and greater impacts to wildlife.

The Upper Green River Valley supports a population of 46,000 antelope. Among them is the Grand Teton Park band that migrates each year to winter habitat in the Upper Green. Wildlife Conservation Society biologist Joel Berger characterizes the Teton Band as a threatened population since there are a mere 200 animals left in that herd. Because bottlenecks along the route threaten to block the migration, Berger believes that the only way to preserve the park herd is to protect the historic migration route.

The migration route follows the Upper Green River Valley and crosses the Gros Ventre Mountains into Grand Teton National Park. On the way, antelope must navigate through a migration corridor that narrows into “bottlenecks” in some places. Once any one of the bottlenecks along the route is blocked, migration will cease.

Without intervention to preserve the pronghorn migration route, the future of Grand Teton National Park’s pronghorn population looks bleak. An opportunity exists to work with the local community to preserve the migration from Trapper’s Point to the park, and help to mitigate the impacts of oil and gas exploration and residential development that are affecting the pronghorn migration.

Government Support & Involvement

  • Pronghorn corridor protection has received support from members of the WY congressional delegation, Governor Freudenthal, local elected officials and the Jackson Hole business community.
  • The Grand Teton Park Superintendent supports pronghorn corridor protection, and the park, in cooperation with the Bridger-Teton National Forest and the National Elk Refuge have designated a protected migration corridor on the public lands managed by these agencies.
  • The Teton County Commissioners passed a resolution in support of corridor protection as a result of community concerns over the issue.

Public Interest and Support

  • Preservation of the pronghorn migration corridor has high visibility on the national level, and strong public support on the local level.
  • Value in helping the public make the link between adjacent land uses and park protection, with parks serving as the core areas of larger ecosystems.
  • Migration corridor protection will also help the declining mule deer population, protect threatened sage grouse habitat, and benefit a myriad of other species that rely on this private/public lands connection.
  • Strong support from local and national media for preservation initiatives.
  • Strong coalition of conservation partners working in the area has helped elevate public interest in preserving the migration.

How Can NPCA Help?

NPCA’s national prominence and strong public association with park protection initiatives place us in a unique position to affect positive change and help to preserve critical lands along the migration route.

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