As springtime comes to Wyoming and the first green grasses reach through the melting snow, thousands of animals start their annual migration patterns.

It’s also a busy time of year for researchers with the non-profit Wyoming Migration Initiative who for the past several years have mapped the migrations of the state’s elk, deer, moose and other animals. 

Up until 2013 little was known about the mule deer, for instance, in the Red Desert of Wyoming until researchers with the non-profit discovered something remarkable taking place right under their noses.

Researchers who went out to study the animals as a non-migratory desert herd were stunned to find they actually migrate 150 miles to northwest Wyoming. The journey takes them over three highways, 100 fences and multiple river crossings.

The group hopes that by documenting the migration of these wild animals using GPS technology, they can better protect their natural habitat and provide a future in one of America’s last untouched wilderness areas. They have also tracked elk around Dubois and followed moose through the Snowy Mountains among other animals. The incredible mule deer migration from the Red Desert was documented in a National Geographic video by Joe Riis. 

Photo credit: A grouping of mule deer make their way across a fence in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal. Getty Images