A Yellowstone exhibit opens at the Natural History Museum of Utah in Salt Lake City. It celebrates the animal migrations through many years of observation. They’ve curated science, photography, film making and artistry to show the long-distance movements like elk, mule deer and prong horn that exist in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.
Arthur Middleton is a biologist and one of the contributors to this unique multi-media wildlife exhibit. He says the Yellowstone ecosystem is a microcosm of the Western US. Middleton brings his biology expertise to the show. Photographer/videographer, Joe Riis, film maker Jenny Nichols and artist James Prosek collaborate to show the rigors that animals go through during migrations.
“You know the 10,000 to 11,000 foot passes these animals cross. The raging rivers. The artwork really tries to expand the story to remind us that there are a great number of migratory wildlife across the system. Not just the hoofed mammals, but the birds, insects and fish that move throughout the system.”
Middleton has spent 10 years following the migrations and working in the region. He says they all spent extended periods there including some very remote areas.
“Well, this was a culmination I think for each of us of years of independent work. I’ve been working with colleagues and state and federal agencies in particularly northwest Wyoming but also across the greater Yellowstone to document with GPS collars and other tools.”
Photographer, Joe Riis, through logging his miles, determined one image in the exhibit took traveling 800 miles to obtain.
“Where he had one photograph, he felt really proud of, which is actually in the exhibit. It’s a huge photograph of an elk cow with a really young calf climbing a high pass on their migration. He said that photograph took about 800 miles on horseback over about two years.”
Middleton says the interactive map that is part of the exhibit is an aggregate of data that shows how snow melts and greening pushes herds into and out of their migratory areas. He says collecting information about the impacts of warming takes a very long time.
“These migrations are totally driven by these climatic forces that determine patterns of snow and plant growth. We d see some trends. We see later and later arrival of some of the elk herds on their winter ranges over the past 20 years. That’s been hard to explain.”
The Yellowstone Invisible Boundaries exhibit runs June 29th to September 15th at the Natural History Museum of Utah. Check the nhmu.utah.edu for hours of operation and more details on the exhibit. Check link here: https://nhmu.utah.edu/welcome?gclid=Cj0KCQjw3uboBRDCARIsAO2XcYDF-eZJWsx83DlKJhfySfcJoI2wEpYiZLDY7aVOIxEDQ4ZMU5dJuBsaAvoMEALw_wcB for hours and more details about the exhibit.