Old, dilapidated fencing is an all-too-common barrier for wildlife trying to make their way across the landscape. In some cases, it can be deadly.
During the summer of 2023, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Wyoming Game & Fish Department (WGFD) and 88 Ranch worked with a private contractor to convert 4.5 miles of old fencing to wildlife-friendly fencing on Mule Creek Ranch property recently conserved by RMEF and landowners.
Crews removed, rebuilt and moved portions of old fencing impeding elk movement between the lower meadows and higher elevation aspen forests and foothills. They also placed several pole crossings with removable top rails in high elk-traffic areas. The overall fence design adheres to current wildlife-friendly fence specifications, including a smooth bottom wire not less than 16 inches from the ground, a top wire not more than 42 inches from the ground and spacing between the top two wires of 12 inches to limit the chance of leg entrapment as wildlife navigate the fence.
“Making it easier for wildlife to navigate through the ranch, and improving the infrastructure for streamlined land management is a win-win. Thanks to the hard-working Habitat and Access crews at WGFD, and our outstanding ranching partner Garrett Henry and crew of 88 Ranch, we were able to make a significant impact on Mule Creek Ranch this season” said Leah Burgess, RMEF senior conservation program manager for the Rocky Mountain region. “RMEF is ramping up efforts to support projects like these that remove or reduce barriers to wildlife movement across the landscape.”
The Mule Creek property lies near the southern Laramie Range Mountains between Casper and Laramie. It supplies winter and year-round elk range and is also home to mule deer, pronghorn antelope and a variety of other wildlife species. Rich in natural springs and found on or near several contributory drainages to Mule Creek and Sheep Creek, it is an expansive and ecologically diverse property in the heart of southeast Wyoming’s Elk Hunt Area 7.
RMEF previously collaborated with the landowners and WGFD to create the Mule Creek Public Access Area, which allows elk hunting access on foot or horseback.
On the broader regional landscape, RMEF contributed more than $500,000 to complete 40 habitat enhancement projects, and eyes plans to do more on the immediate property while a long-term ownership plan is formulated.
(Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)