Big Game

Sustaining big game populations in the face of increasing land use and environmental change is a top priority for agencies, industry, and the public. WEST has the experience and expertise needed to provide clients with science-based solutions to big game management and conservation challenges.

WEST’s scientists have substantial expertise designing, conducting, and analyzing studies for a wide range of big game species, including mountain sheep, mountain goat, mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn, elk, moose, grizzly bear, polar bear, and cougar. We have accomplished and published dozens of abundance and occupancy analyses using a variety of methods, including mark and recapture, distance sampling, direct counts, photo sampling, infrared sensors, and aerial surveys. WEST specializes in delineating critical habitats (e.g., migratory routes, stopovers, winter range) from Global Positioning System data and impact assessments that evaluate behavioral responses to habitat change and human disturbance.


  • Resource Selection Analysis
  • Abundance and Density Estimation
  • Survival Modeling
  • Population and Habitat Modeling
  • Movement Modeling and Migratory Patterns
  • Space-Use Estimation
  • Impact and Risk Assessment
  • Management and Conservation Plans
  • Global Positioning System and Very High Frequency Telemetry Studies
  • Aerial Survey and Telemetry Studies

Peer-Reviewed Big Game Publications

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Project Highlights

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Trappers Point Wildlife Crossing Study

The seasonal migrations of ungulates are increasingly threatened by various forms of anthropogenic disturbance, including roads, fences, and other infrastructure. While roadway impacts of two-lane highways to mule deer can largely be mitigated with underpasses and continuous fencing, similar mitigation may not be effective for pronghorn or other ungulate species that are reluctant to move through confined areas.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation installed six underpasses and two overpasses along 20 kilometers of US Highway 191. Species-specific preferences were evaluated by documenting the number of migratory mule deer and pronghorn that used adjacent overpasses and underpasses for three years following construction.

WEST staff, including Dr. Hall Sawyer documented 40,251 mule deer and 19,290 pronghorn that migrated across the highway. Of those 79% of mule deer moved under the highway whereas 93% of pronghorn moved over the highway.

Our results highlight that species-specific preferences are an important consideration when mitigating roadway impacts with wildlife crossing structures. Overpass and underpass construction reduced wildlife-vehicle collisions by approximately 81%.