Farms and ranches need power fencing, but sometimes, these fences are left to rot in their obsolescence or are placed badly enough that they become dangers to the wildlife in the region.
For this reason, the local Jackson hole Wildlife Foundation formed its volunteer fence-pull team, whose mission is to remover and/or modify fencing in the region that is superfluous and endangering the wildlife in the region. In 2018, the foundation is approaching its 25th anniversary, and it’s set a new milestone for itself; removing 200 miles of unneeded fencing.
This effort had 26 volunteers and foundation staff out in the field earlier in July removing nearly one whole mile of unneeded power fencing in a relic pasture located not far from the House Creek elk feedground operated by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. The staff and volunteers started their work at the junction located between the Bridger-Teton National Forest and a plot of state-owned land located 10 miles southeast of Jackson, right off of Highway 89.
Wildlife Foundation board member and Wyoming Game and Fish wildlife biologist, Aly Courtemanch, says that, with the livestock having stopped grazing within the national forest’s bounds, the barbed-wire fence around the area is now unnecessary, and has stated that removing the fence removes a problem for migrating wildlife that passes through the area, primarily elk and mule deer. The three-strand fence was a danger to animals going through the area, which is why the volunteers pulled them out from their wooden posts. The wiring was then rolled up and hauled to recycling.
The group doesn’t just remove barbed wire from fences, it also modifies existing fencing to ensure the safety of wildlife in areas where fencing is still needed for farms and ranches. Modifications include lowering the height of fencing, replacing the top and bottom wires with smooth wiring, and the like.
Foundation Executive Director Jon Mobeck explains that barbed wire is kept at the middle to protect the wildlife in the area as well as grazing cattle, due to the fact that wild animals go over or under fencing, but cattle approach them differently, opting to push through.
The NPO’s goal is to reduce the risk of animals migrating in the region; either by removing unneeded fencing or modifying necessary fencing to be safer for them to deal with.