LANDER — On Saturday, June 20, 2020, 30 volunteers and staff from the nonprofit organizations and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department joined near Farson to make passage across Highway 28 a little easier for pronghorn moving through the area. This work is especially important during winter months when they migrate to the winter range south and east of the highway.
The Wyoming Wildlife Federation worked together with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s local habitat biologist, Dean Clause, and others to organize the volunteer day.
Volunteers from Wyoming Wildlife Federation, Bowhunters of Wyoming, Muley Fanatic Foundation and Jackson Hole Women’s Moose Rugby all helped make progress on phase one of this project for improving pronghorn movements along a 34-mile stretch of highway.
Specifically, this phase included two tasks. First was improving gates for land managers to leave open throughout the winter months when there are no livestock grazing the nearby BLM allotments. The Wyoming Department of Transportation helped complete that part of the project last year.
The second part is creating an adjustable height bottom wire. The finished bottom wire can be placed at two heights, 16” and 20” above the ground. Volunteers at the field day removed old staples, then installed two clips at those heights for land and wildlife managers to adjust the wire height depending on conditions.
Clause suggested this work, in conjunction with the 11 pronghorn they collared in 2019, will help identify the key places to lift wires to make it easier for pronghorn to travel across the roadway. Clause is hoping to put another 20 to 30 collars on pronghorn in the area this winter.
“The most labor-intensive part of this whole project is installing these two clips,” Clause said as he demonstrated to the group of volunteers what they would be doing that Saturday morning.
Volunteers joined from all over Wyoming, some from the local communities of Rock Springs and Lander, and others from as far away as Sheridan and Cheyenne to help the efforts.
“I think it was really cool for people to leave their homes on a Saturday – especially Father’s Day weekend – to come to help wildlife,” Sam Lockwood, WWF’s field coordinator said.
This stretch of road outside of Farson is a mandatory crossing for a couple of historic pronghorn migrations. Based on the Wyoming Migration Initiative’s research, pronghorn will travel from as far north as Grand Teton National Park to winter near Farson. Additionally, the Red Desert to Hoback mule deer migration, which includes a herd of over 24,000 deer, crosses Highway 28 along this roadway section.
Better wildlife movement as a result of this fencing improvement project will make this roadway safer for both humans and ungulates. The improved passage will preserve historic migration routes and improve herd survival rates.
If you would like more information on upcoming habitat projects, including a fence pull in the Shoshone National Forest on July 25, please visit wyomingwildlife.org.