By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A short documentary film about a University of Wyoming biologist following the migration path of mule deer was released worldwide on Wednesday.
The film, “92 Miles: A Migration Study,” focuses on Wyoming migration scientist Patrick Rodgers as he completes a long distance run following the migration path of mule deer (92 miles along a route in southern Wyoming and northern Colorado) while also dealing with the grief of losing his father to cancer, according to the University of Wyoming.
The one-half hour film, sponsored by companies including Yeti and Sitka, was shot and co-produced by UW alumnus Benjamin Kraushaar. It can be viewed here.
The idea for the documentary originated as a plan to give audiences a new perspective of mule deer migration, through the lens of long-distance running.
Viewers will also learn about the science of migrations and the challenges migratory deer face. The film details the importance of wild, connected landscapes for humans and wildlife alike.
“Migration is a journey of risk and suffering: dodging semis on perilous highways, tearing ligaments in barbed-wire fences, or searching for food while trying to avoid becoming food for a hungry mountain lion,” Rodgers said. “Indeed, life is fleeting. Yet, through it all, mule deer seem to possess a transcendental ability to keep their heads up and keep moving, as if their lives depend on it, which they do.
“My dad finished his life’s race Dec. 15, 2017. His life inside of me was a huge reason I kept my head up and finished those long 92 miles,” Rodgers continued. “Loss is an inescapable part of life’s grand migration and, without a doubt, I will have to grapple with that reality for the rest of my life. Yet, as I navigate this beautiful life, at least I know I’m not alone.”
Rodgers, who is from Casper, graduated from UW with a zoology degree in 2014 and completed his master’s degree in zoology in May 2020.
He received a National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship for his studies into the differences in migratory behavior of male and female mule deer, which involved capturing and outfitting 95 buck mule deer with satellite collars near Baggs to track their movements and compare them with the movements of does.