Improved fencing to help pronghorn, deer migration

The stretch of highway can be difficult for pronghorn to navigate during winter migration.
The stretch of highway can be difficult for pronghorn to navigate during winter migration.

Wyoming Game and Fish, December 16, 2019


Cheyenne – Pronghorn  and deer east of Farson soon will be able to cross fences along their  winter migration routes more easily thanks to improved fencing along  Wyoming Highway 28. The stretch of highway can be difficult for  pronghorn to navigate during winter migration.

“During  tougher winters, pronghorn get balled up on the north side of the  highway as they’re moving south to some of their winter ranges,” said  Dean Clause, wildlife biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department  in Pinedale. “There is winter range on both sides of the highway, but  we’ve had some pronghorn that couldn’t get through the fence or  negotiate it well with deeper snow levels. They have died on that north  side during years with tough winter conditions. I’m pretty sure this  project is going to be really beneficial to getting animals through.”

Work  is underway for the first phase of the project improving fences between  mileposts 5.5 and 14.5. So far, seven paired gates, which can be opened  during heavy migration to provide a 32-foot opening for traveling herds,  have been installed. This allows animals to cross the highway without  having to navigate the fence. 

Another  part of the first phase includes fastening adjustable wire clips to  fence posts to allow the height of the fence’s bottom wire to  accommodate migrating pronghorn, which often choose to crawl under  fences rather than jump them. The first phase of the project is expected  to be completed this spring.

Improvements  to Highway 28 for wildlife are a collaborative effort. Sweetwater  County Commission Chairman Wally Johnson proposed a meeting to discuss  the need for crossing structures or fence modifications. The Game and  Fish helped plan and design the project, and the Wyoming Department of  Transportation provided the labor and materials.  Multiple  partners contributed to make the project possible including the Muley  Fanatic Foundation Southwest Wyoming Chapter, Greater Yellowstone  Coalition, Wyoming Wildlife Federation, Knobloch Family Foundation,  Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the Nature Conservancy,  BLM, Mark Kot and area grazing committees that use the land for cattle  and sheep grazing. The cost for materials for the first phase was about $8,200.

During  the second phase of the project, crews will replace the barbed bottom  wire with a smooth wire and add adjustable clips from milepost 14.5 to  just past milepost 33. Clause estimates the cost to be about  $30,000 if WYDOT provides the labor. If not, the cost will increase. If  funding is secured quickly, the full project could be completed in fall  2020.   

(Sara DiRienzo (307-777-4540))

– WGFD –