Wildlife Friendly Fence a Practical Solution
By Ruben Vasquez, district conservationist for Albany County
In years past, many ranchers in Albany County raised sheep, and installed the associated woven and barbed wire fence needed to control and manage the woolies. As these ranching operations have evolved to cattle operations, the existing fences were certainly adequate in managing and controlling cattle grazing.
However, several producers recognized that the existing woven wire and 5-6 wire barbed fences prevented pronghorn, deer and elk from freely moving and migrating through their lands.
Pictured below: Woven and barbed wire fence
Each year in Wyoming, elk, deer, pronghorn, and other large mammals are injured or killed running into fences or entangling themselves in wire. Also, landowners have to deal with costly and time-consuming repairs whenever wildlife damages their fences.
John Nunn and a neighbor visited with the Wyoming Game & Fish field employees and looked at practical solutions for modifying fences at problem sites to help wildlife while saving money in fence repairs.
The landowners applied and received financial assistance from the NRCS under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to replace existing woven wire fence with a wildlife friendly fence. These fence-replacement projects in specific areas of their ranches, will allow pronghorn antelope and other big game to pass through the fence without the risk of getting tangled in the wires. The fence wire spacing allows pronghorn to crawl under the fence, while the lighter-on-their-feet deer and elk can easily jump over the fence – all with minimum risk of injury.
Ultimately, 29,000 feet of woven and/or 5 strand barbed wire fence was replaced with wildlife-friendly fence, vastly improving big game movement on or through the ranches.
"I am pleased with the result," Nunn said. "Wildlife friendly fence does work."
In addition to the migration route improvement, the two fence-replacement projects benefit overall rangeland health, by allowing animals to more readily find forage during winter months, and reducing browsing pressure on forbs and shrubs.
Pictured below: Completed wildlife friendly fence