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Migration or Dispersal?

One interesting and perhaps anomalous pattern occurred on 15 June of 2017. A male fawn that was captured as a newborn during summer 2016, and that we were able to recapture and put a GPS collar on in the spring of 2017, departed what appeared to be his summer range just north of Pine Mountain in the southeastern portion of the study area. In just 2 short days, this 1-year old male moved north, crossed I-80 between Rock Springs and Green River, and is currently residing north of Pilot Butte, west of Rock Springs.

The timing and decision to “migrate” in the middle of summer is a bit abnormal, and the location of his movement likely is more reflective of a dispersal event where he is establishing a new summer range. It begs the question if he will return, or perhaps establish a new winter range this autumn. Time will tell if this young male retains some of what he learned during his upbringing, or if he simply has adopted an entirely new movement strategy. It is possible that this could be an important link in determining why buck:doe ratios have remained stagnant in the face of extremely limited harvest. Are young males dispersing to try and find better ranges to occupy? Is this a common occurrence? Hopefully we’ll be able to answer these questions at the conclusion of our work.


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