WYOMING — On Saturday, July 25, volunteers and staff from the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and Shoshone National Forest rendezvoused between Togwotee Pass and Dubois to help reduce wildlife entanglements in old, unused fencing. 

Volunteers and workers removed 1.25 miles of three-strand barbed wire and fence posts that were no longer in use near Warm Springs Creek. This area burned in 2016 in the Lava Mountain Fire, leaving much of the wire extremely susceptible to tangling up migrating deer, elk, moose, and other wildlife in the area. 

“It’s a great way to get out with volunteers, partner with agencies and hunters, and get engagement from the public. By the end of the day we get to have an immediate impact on the ground to benefit wildlife,” said co-organizer Joseph Flower of the Shoshone National Forest.

RMEF and Wyoming Wildlife Federation have partnered since 2010 to make a dent in the many projects needed on the ground in Fremont County. This volunteer day will help improve ungulate movements, in particular for the Dubois deer herd, from which many of the deer come. The late-season hunting opportunity in this area is considered by many to be the highest quality deer hunting experience in the state. 

Volunteers and officials remove fencing up on Togwotee Pass. Photo: Wyoming Wildlife Federation // JBale

U.S. Fish & Wildlife biologist and volunteer, Pat Hnilicka also joined in the fencing project. He pointed out there is new collaring data from the Wind River Reservation that suggests deer move through the area where the project took place on their arduous 100-mile trips into the Gros Ventre Wilderness and beyond. 

Volunteers for Saturday’s fencing removal project included members of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation from Victor, ID, visitors from Salt Lake City, UT, and Riverton and Lander, WY community members. 

WWF’s Policy Director, Joy Bannon said, “it’s hard to believe for us, but this is the 10th year in a row working with Bob Joslin and the Red Canyon Chapter of the RMEF to facilitate a Shoshone National Forest habitat project. We are really looking forward to keeping this volunteer day going into future years.”