Great Pieces of Ungulate Migration Content for High School Students
Big game migration content and activities connect with various high school science standards.
- The Wild Migrations atlas has 70+ topics to explore. Check your high school library or public library for a copy. Purchase the atlas from Oregon State University Press or online booksellers: https://osupress.oregonstate.edu/book/wild-migrations
- Wyoming’s Big Game Migrations and 50 Years of Wilderness Video – https://vimeo.com/112181503
- Fawn Recruitment – https://vimeo.com/489899887
- Elk River Film – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rS3P9gI7CUU
- Deer 139 Film – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cpqy_Jzk43U
- 92 Miles Film – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7RAGNhOKKY
- Migration Barriers Film – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wv5pzwbfH2k
- 400 Miles To Cross Film – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdoRvHj0Sa4
- Deer 255’s Migration Animation (March 2019) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58WKu_vKfu8
- “All This Can Co-exist” Mule Deer Migration on the Edge of Yellowstone Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_NuCbHMMRk
- On The Elk Trail Video Series – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvCEz0gUAAs
- Joe Riis Red Desert Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIAyb-1uwTg
- Capturing Wildlife with Joe Riis – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gI2DOLT-KEk
- Ologies Podcast, Cervidology – https://www.alieward.com/ologies/cervidology
- Amazing Animal Migrations by Land, Air, and Sea | Nat Geo Wild – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mc3YIrs19fw
- Migration Corridors: Connecting Wildlife and People of New Mexico – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFzxb8auxiQ
- Ungulates in Asia: “Saigas are straight out of Star Wars” | Animalogic – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUjjkAI56qM
- Oceanic Mammals: “Into the deep with elephant seals” | KQED – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQRGHjmoq-s
- Fish Migration Conservation: Super Salmon Film – https://vimeo.com/169336239
- Migration to Follow Rain: The Great Wildebeest Migration Animation – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EF9YFyTAJiI
- See our YouTube playlists for more video content – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-1qijz4SUdhdv3_ucXwQEQ/playlists
High School Migration Science Activities
- To teach students about graphs and data analysis, choose a few different styles of graphs and tables from the Wild Migrations Ask the students guided questions about those graphs. For example: what is the story these figures tell? What are the trends? What are the variables? Then introduce how data and graphs help solve real world problems such as wildlife vehicle collisions. Have students read pages 114-115 in the Atlas on bottlenecks and wildlife vehicle collisions. Ask students to create an excel spreadsheet with the data for 2007 and 2012 found on the ‘Wildlife Mortality before and after crossing structures’ figure on page 115 of the Atlas. (Side note: This map style is called a “Snow Map” and was initially used to trace the source of the 1854 cholera epidemic to the Broad Street Pump in London. (https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/mar/15/john-snow-cholera-map) Then ask students to create a graph of their own using this data. You could ask students the following questions: What does the data tell us about collisions before the crossing was built? What is the average of mortalities across species? What does the data of collisions tell us after the crossing was built? You could also ask students to think about visual elements on their graphs, can they make them more visually engaging? Express to students the importance of data visualization.
- To help students understand population ecology and management tools introduce how biologists sample populations: Present the different methods of data collection (mark and recapture, aerial photos, and trail cameras). Then have students watch a video from a trail camera in western Wyoming located here: https://youtu.be/LrArPBr-H1A. Ask students to identify how many animals, age of animals, and sex of animals walk by in the video. Teachers can choose how long to show the video, depending on time (the video is 6 minutes). In addition, teachers can create a scenario where after conducting their population count students will apply a population model to estimate the number of cows, calves, and bulls in a herd of 10,000, and calculate the calf recruitment rate.
- To inform students about the different types of animal adaptations and behavior watch all or some of the short videos listed below. You can also have students read sections of the Wild Migrations atlas that talk about behavior and adaptations.
- Mule Deer Migration behavior and food resources: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GJi-llkbxg.
- Pronghorn in Deep Snow: https://fb.watch/4QqnBSv29b/
- This management document further discusses mule deer food resources and habitat: https://wgfd.wyo.gov/WGFD/media/content/PDF/Habitat/Mule%20Deer%20Initiative/RecommendationsforManagingMuleDeerHabitatinWyoming.pdf
Ask students: What are the animals doing in these clips, and how can you tell? Why do you think the animals are behaving this way? What need are they trying to meet? What aspect of the animals’ form — in other words, how their bodies are built — lends itself to the behavior shown in the photograph? Why do animals migrate in groups? Why do some individuals in a herd migrate greater or shorter distances?
- To teach students about human impacts on wildlife, talk about threats to migration wildlife listed in the Wild Migrations atlas starting on page 89-115 or have students watch this video, “Migration Minute #8 Threats to Big Game Migrations” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpnoBmVHGzA. Then have students go to westernigrations.net and pick a species and a migration route or corridor for that species. Zooming into different parts of the migration route students will identify potential human impacts that the migration route could experience. Examples of these impacts could be (proximity to a town, roads and highways, and potential land boundary or livestock fences, energy development, etc.). Ask students to identify what type of habitat the animal moves through. What other animals might live in the same habitat? Then ask students to identify one human impact. Ask them if they can break down their human impact into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering. Have students brainstorm solutions that would help reduce that impact. Students could make a pros and cons list of those solutions that include the cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts. Then have students make a poster, write an essay, produce a piece of art, short video, etc. to share what they learned.
High School Cross-curricular Activities
- Inspiring Conservation Actions Through Art: Ask students to research a migrating ungulate and the barriers it might face on its migration. Provide students with access to resources such as the Atlas or some of our Wyoming Migration Initiative video series located on our YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-1qijz4SUdhdv3_ucXwQEQ) that talk about migration barriers and threats. Then ask students to think about producing a multimedia piece that inspires people to conserve migrating wildlife using one of the barriers the animals face as a focal point. You can also show students the film, Elk River (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rS3P9gI7CUU) and talk about the intersection of science and the arts.
- ACT Prep/Science/Reading Literacy: Have students read peer-reviewed research papers located on our ‘Research’ page on our website. Ask students to write a poem about the research article then ask them to write a more technical digestible summary of the work identifying the components of the scientific method and other questions.
- Cartography/Data visualization: Ask students to define cartography, discuss different types of maps (use maps from the Atlas as examples) and summarize the uses for different styles of maps. Explain how maps can be made (different software types or hand drawn), what a database is, data file types, etc. Ask students to produce their own map of a migration route or an individual animal to tell the story. Give students a hypothetical situation that the map will be needed for (i.e. an Indigenous museum exhibit, a large stakeholder meeting with land managers, private landowners, etc., an art gallery exhibition, etc.) Should students need data to work with, you can view and download migration route data at (net). This data can be used in google earth, ArcGIS, or can help students produce hand drawn maps. After students finish their maps, ask them to reflect on their cartographic element choices, were they effective in getting their message across to their target audience, why or why not?
- Social Studies: Introduce the Indigenous connection to migrating wildlife using the pages in the Atlas (35-45) that discuss ancient rituals, the first hunters, and Indigenous place names. Have the students memorize a few place names and meanings. You can also play the ‘Mapping Migrations on the Wind River Reservation’ video (https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2076459005906030). Ask students to write a short essay, poem, or make a TikTok-style video on how migration routes influence Indigenous culture and vice-versa and how that has changed over time and why.
FOR ALL GRADES:
Suggested migration-related field trips / expert visits for different areas of Wyoming
- Take a field trip to a winter range area or a Wildlife Habitat Management Area, and write a report explaining why animals are there and what they are doing to survive. Or have a range manager visit your classroom.
- Have a local biologist visit your classroom to show you ungulate furs, hooves, antlers etc. and describe their yearly activities. Your local Wyoming Game and Fish Department office may have travelling trunks available for these presentations.
- Visit a ranch that is working on wildlife habitat enhancements or wildlife-friendly fencing projects.
- Have a highway engineer come speak about wildlife-roadway projects in your area.
- Visit the studio of a wildlife artist/photographer/filmmaker to learn about their work.
- Visit a museum and look at different wildlife art or Indigenous artifacts to see where migratory ungulates and their migration patterns are part of the exhibits.
- Have a taxidermist visit your classroom.
- Have a historian, archaeologist, or anthropologist talk about how their field of study relates to migration.
- Invite a Tribal elder, Tribal leader, or Tribal game warden/biologist to talk about wildlife issues, treaties, and sovereignty relating to Indigenous people.
- Invite a nonprofit leader to your classroom to talk about their efforts to conserve ungulate migrations and habitat.
- Invite an outfitter/sporting goods retailer/business person to your classroom to talk about their business and how it relates to migration.
- Invite a wildlife manager/policy expert/state representative/Game and Fish commission member to talk about wildlife issues.
- Invite a game warden to come talk about their work.
- Invite a college/university or nonprofit wildlife researcher to visit your classroom to talk about their research.
- Invite a tow truck/EMT/first responder/insurance agent to talk about wildlife-vehicle collisions, driver safety, and prevention. (Recommended for high school.)