GREEN RIVER — The Muley Fanatic Foundation Headquarters and the Muley Fanatic Foundation Southwest Wyoming Chapter have been awarded two grants totaling $45,000 to aid mule deer conservation.
The funds will support GPS monitoring of mule deer and a documentary to tell the story of their world-class migrations.
“A lot of credit goes to a local Rock Springs Dominion Energy employee, Eric Adams, who contacted us about working to secure some of these funds. It is a huge credit to Dominion Energy to put their foot forward to ensure wildlife conservation and stewardship on the landscape. Migration routes, for not only mule deer but other big game species, has become a big deal in the conservation world. This funding will better assist a lot of folks in understanding more about those corridors. A big thank you to Dominion Energy for both of these grants.”
Natural gas supplier Dominion Energy provided the awards as part of their Environmental Grants program. Muley Fanatic Foundation will put the funds toward conservation of mule deer migration in the southwest Wyoming region where Dominion Energy operates.
A portion of the grant funds will go to work on the Red Desert to Hoback Migration Corridor, in collaboration with the Wyoming Migration Initiative. This corridor is the world’s longest-distance deer migration documented so far, and also the first officially categorized as “vital habitat” by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission.
Biologists from the Wyoming Migration Initiative, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, and the Wyoming BLM are currently tracking deer in this herd using GPS collars.
The data will help inform where the Muley Fanatic Foundation and other groups put money on-the-ground for habitat work. The information can be used to identify conservation targets such as range enhancements, fence modifications, road crossings, and other projects.
The funding will further aid the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in monitoring the timing of spring and fall migration to manage harvest strategies.
Finally, the grants will support a documentary film showing how Interstate-80 acts as a barrier for migratory big-game across southern Wyoming. The highway interferes with wildlife movement barrier across nearly 400 miles, cutting mule deer off from habitat that could help them better survive droughts and harsh winter weather.
The film will show how potential solutions like crossing structures can provide better habitat connectivity, and promote abundant herds for the long-term. Muley Fanatic Foundation is partnering with the Wyoming Migration Initiative to produce the film.
“These migrations are really part of Wyoming’s economy, culture, and natural heritage,” said Greg Nickerson, writer and filmmaker for the Wyoming Migration Initiative who is leading the documentary project. “Telling the story of these migratory animals and the obstacles they face — and also the potential solutions — is critical for big-game conservation.”
Dominion Energy Wyoming provides natural gas distribution service to customers in Sublette, Lincoln, Uinta, Sweetwater, and Carbon County. The company annually awards environmental grants through its philanthropic arm, the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation.
Dominion’s competitive grants support environmental education and stewardship projects that preserve, enhance or make nature more accessible. In 2018, the grants went to 129 organizations in 12 states. Since 2003, Dominion has donated nearly $32 million to a wide variety of environmental projects across its footprint.