GYC, TNC install wildlife-friendly fencing west of Yellowstone

We and The Nature Conservancy joined forces during the final weeks of August to install about one mile of wildlife-friendly fencing on private property located west of Yellowstone Park in the Henry’s Lake area of Idaho.

 GYC Idaho Conservation Coordinator Kathy Rinaldi (left) and a volunteer install the fence. (Photo GYC.)

GYC Idaho Conservation Coordinator Kathy Rinaldi (left) and a volunteer install the fence. (Photo GYC.)

Thanks to private landowners who manage their property for the benefit of local wildlife, the fencing project replaced dilapidated barbed wire fence with buck and rail fencing that will better protect the land from livestock trespass, reduce conflicts with grizzly bears, and allow wildlife passage both over and under the fence.

 TNC’s Matt Ward with volunteers and fencing materials. (Photo GYC.)

TNC’s Matt Ward with volunteers and fencing materials. (Photo GYC.)

Wildlife that move in and out of Yellowstone, like deer, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn can jump fences. But if fences are too high, animals may become tangled or injured. If they’re too steep, animals may be completely blocked from safe passage. And if a fence gets buried in snow –- which happens every winter here –- animals may become tangled, injured, blocked, or worse, as their chances for surviving already-harsh winters are greatly reduced. A recent Utah State University study at found that for every two and a half miles of fence, an average of one mule deer, pronghorn, or elk per year was tangled.

Wildlife-friendly fencing, however, can bring down these entanglements. There are two important elements to wildlife-friendly fencing. First, the fence must be visible. Moving animals and birds are not always able to identify a wire fence clearly from a distance. Second, the fence must be made from materials that are properly spaced to permit animals to jump over and crawl under fence parts without injury. With good visibility, safe materials, and the correct construction, a wildlife-friendly fence can not only improve your fence’s function but also keep your local wildlife safe from harm.

 Project dog Jake, who really was the heart of the team. (Photo GYC.)

Project dog Jake, who really was the heart of the team. (Photo GYC.)

We’re grateful to the conservation partners who made this project possible. And thank you for supporting our work! If you’d like to replace the barbed wire fences on your property with a better option for our Greater Yellowstone wildlife, please contact me at amichalski@greateryellowstone.org .

 — Allison Michalski, Idaho Conservation Associate