Elk NetworkReport: Moose, Sheep ‘Learn’ How to Migrate

General | September 7, 2018

A new report published in the journal Science indicates migration during certain times of year for large mammals such as moose and bighorn sheep is not instinctive, but more of a learned behavior.

“If a migration is lost, from some sort of disturbance to the landscape that cuts their migration off, it takes a long time for these migrations to re-establish because they require animals to learn about their landscape, pass that knowledge on to young, who then augment that knowledge with their own experiences and then pass that on to young, and so on and so forth,” Brett Jesmer, researcher and ecologist at the University of Wyoming, told National Public Radio. “It’s this really slow development of knowledge over time that allows them to optimally use their landscape and begin migrating.”

Researchers used GPS tracking information by monitoring 267 bighorn sheep and 189 moose.

The bottom line of the scientific study translates into simply this—the best way to protect migrating species is to protect and conserve their migration corridors.

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(Photo source: Wyoming Migration Initiative)