The project will modify approximately 24 total miles of existing woven-wire, 6-strand and 5-strand barbed wire fence to 3 or 4-wire fence built with wildlife specifications to facilitate big game movement on the Grizzly Wildlife Habitat Management Area (WHMA). The new fences will be built to standard Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) wildlife specifications for wire spacing including a smooth bottom wire positioned 16-18 inches above the ground, and a ratio of three steel posts per one wood post. The fence modification work is planned in phases, where the contractor would remove and reconstruct 4 miles of fence annually on the WHMA during a 6-year period to accomplish the entire 24-mile improvement project.
Many sections of the WHMA fence identified for modification are located in an antelope migration corridor between transition season habitat and crucial winter range. Existing woven and multiple strand stock fences are difficult obstacles for antelope to negotiate through during the fall/spring migration, especially at corners where 3 or more fences join one another. These fences can become critical bottlenecks during severe fall snowstorms when antelope need to migrate to winter range quickly. Potential exists for several antelope to become disoriented and trapped against the fence during a harsh snowstorm and become severely stressed or perish. The existing fence is also an impediment for antelope home range movements during the summer months, and appears to act as a movement barrier to young mule deer fawns and elk calves attempting to utilize various rearing habitat on the Grizzly WHMA.
The goal of the project is to reduce fragmentation of big game ranges by eliminating obstacles that impede movement of animals between life stage habitats, and enhances the overall effectiveness and purpose of the Grizzly WHMA.
Specific Quantifiable Wildlife Benefits:
1) Reduce potential for significant antelope mortality in a portion of the Baggs herd caused by a severe snowstorm during the fall migration. 2) Reduce the potential for stress on migrating antelope in this portion of the Baggs Herd, thereby alleviating some of the physiological demands for survival on crucial winter range. 3) Facilitate free movement of antelope, mule deer, and elk on their summer home ranges, and allow them to choose and utilize optimum habitat types. This is especially important during drought years for lactating females in the fawn and calf rearing period.
Invasive species treatment is done through BLM Rawlins Field Office.
2008 Update: This project reduces the miles of fence that impedes migration of big game and causes mortality in some cases. New fencing replaces the old existing barrier fences with those that meet updated fencing standards. This project built one stretch of fence (JH) in an area south of Rawlins.
2009 Update: Funds were used to convert 6.5 of 24 total miles of woven wire, 6-strand, and 5 strand fencing on BLM, State of Wyoming, and private lands within the Grizzly Wildlife Habitat Management Area in the Rawlins Field Office. New fences will allow easier migration of pronghorn herds, elk calves, and mule deer fawns as construction will follow WGFD wildlife specifications for wire spacing including a smooth wire bottom strand. Additional benefit will be realized by sage grouse with the removal of the woven wire fencing. All old fencing will be removed by contractor. This project has strong partnership and communication between the BLM, WGFD, and the local permittees who spend time replacing some of the fence with provide materials.
2010 Update: In 2009 6 & ½ miles of woven wire fence conversions were completed.