Mule Deer Migration: One Woman Follows in Its Footsteps

Like wildlife? Need something to do? Settle down with this hour-long virtual film festival.

The film “Deer 139” follows the efforts of a small team at the Haub School for Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming. The film opens with one researcher’s mission to track tagged doe No. 139.

The lead researcher, Sam Dwinnell, decides her team will trace the doe’s 6-week, 85-mile migration in just 9 days. That means moving fast with lots of gear: boots, tents, packrafts, and skis.

“Sound ridiculous? It is ridiculous. It’s about science and our desire for a crazy adventure,” narrates Dwinnell. Joining her on the adventure is a field naturalist, Anya Tyson, and an investigative reporter, Tennessee Watson. It’s an all-female team.

And it’s more than just research: Tracking this Wyoming mule deer herd is part of an effort to preserve the iconic, now-endangered species. The researchers’ work with the deer is a tribute to the people and animals who live on the land now — and the ones who will occupy the land in the future.

“This land has some limitations; they are packed in. The reality is that they have nowhere else to go,” explains Dwinnell in the film. “Their survival means being loyal to a specific patch of land.”

The researchers’ main question: What about our environment determines survival? For deer 139 and for others, this team was committed to finding the answer. But did they do so in time to save the species?

You can catch the full feature film at the online International Wildlife Film Festival April 18-25, 2020.

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Mary Murphy

Mary is the Managing Editor of GearJunkie and is based in GearJunkie's Denver, Colo. office. She has a degree in English and journalism, and has a background in both newspaper and magazine writing. Her outdoor interests span from running to sport climbing, from landscape photography to skiing to pack-paddleboarding. If she's not writing, you can most likely find her at the top of a fourteener, or in a local bakery.

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