Henrys Fork Wildlife Alliance (HFWA) volunteers worked for most of the day Tuesday and removed 3,600 feet of derelict barbed wire fence from several private properties in Island Park bordering the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.
The land was originally part of a long-ago ranch and the wire has not been used for its intended purpose for decades.
Rick Sitts, a Founding Member of HFWA who helped organize the project and participated as a volunteer, said obsolete fences are significant barriers to migrating pronghorn, deer, elk and bighorn sheep, all of which he has seen moving through this area.
Volunteers gathered mid morning and were provided with gloves, fencing pliers, bolt cutters and other tools, so they could pull wire off metal and wood fence posts and out of the ground.
Caitlyn Wanner, Volunteer Coordinator for HFWA, said the group launched a program last summer to remove unused fences that pose a hazard to wildlife. She said projects like this are a part of the group’s core commitment to preserve and protect wildlife and to improve wildlife habitat.
Tuesday’s fence removal project was HFWA’s biggest single one-day project so far. National Parks Conservation Association partnered on the project, which was directed by HFWA’s Caitlyn Wanner and Pat Todd of NPCA.
Pat Todd, who manages the Yellowstone Pronghorn Project for NPCA, said “Since 2010 the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been working with local communities to encourage wildlife safe fencing practices. Pronghorn are the second fastest land mammal with the ability to run up to 60 mph, but they are extremely hesitant to jump and will travel miles out of their way to search for areas where they can duck underneath fences.”
Todd says, “Historically, pronghorn migrated from their summer range in West Yellowstone over Targhee pass, past Henrys Lake, and into winter range in the Madison Valley and Henrys Lake Flat. Today, camera traps set by NPCA have shown some individuals moving over Targhee Pass, encouraging NPCA to support fence removal and modification around Henrys Lake.” She praised the work of volunteers on this project saying “it will will help support the safe passage of pronghorn living in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem for decades to come.”
If you have old barbed wire that is a hazard to wildlife and want it removed, contact HFWA at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their fence removal work is done by volunteers and free to the landowner.