Adopt A Wildlife Acre

by National Wildlife Federation
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre
Adopt A Wildlife Acre

Project Report | Mar 11, 2024
Making Strides for Wildlife Migrations

By Simon Buzzard | Wildlife Connectivity Manager

Pronghorn stopped by a fence in southwest MT
Pronghorn stopped by a fence in southwest MT

I’m excited to introduce you to the newest aspect of our wildlife conflict resolution program: wildlife friendly fencing. National Wildlife Federation has been leading this work in southwest Montana on the edges of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem since 2021, and already we’re making huge strides for migratory wildlife. We’ve removed or modified 23 miles of problematic fencing in important winter range and corridors for pronghorn, elk, moose, and mule deer. Our goal is to complete 100 miles of fence modifications or removals by 2028.

As you know, retiring grazing allotments on public lands to reclaim crucial habitat for keystone species like grizzly bears and wolves, and the protect bighorn sheep remains a top priority. In the last GlobalGiving newsletter you heard about our biggest grazing retirement to date: over 100,000 acres of alpine wildlife habitat in the San Juan mountains of Colorado will be restored by eliminating sheep grazing in this highly sensitive environment. But we also recognize that wildlife must be able to move to survive, and as the human development footprint continues to expand, we need to be proactive about conserving and restoring migration corridors.

In the West, wildlife migrations often mean treks of hundreds of miles over thousands of feet of elevation change between winter and summer ranges. And this means navigating barriers like roads and fences. Fencing is a ubiquitous aspect of the built environment that is often overlooked. There are hundreds of thousands of miles of barbed wire fences crisscrossing the landscape of western North America. These fences affect wildlife movement on both a daily and seasonal scale. A recent study found that mule deer encountered fences an average of 119 times each year, and pronghorn confronted fences at more than twice that rate, about 248 times per year. These encounters require valuable time and energy spent navigating barriers, leading to stress and premature mortality. Furthermore, entanglement in fences kills up to 1.3 ungulates per 6 miles of fence, with potentially major effects on recruitment and adult survival for species like mule deer and pronghorn.

Research has shown that modifying bottom and top-wire heights of fences helps wildlife pass through easier. By replacing the bottom wire with a barbless strand and raising it a minimum of 16” off the ground, we can help reduce the barrier effect of fences for elk and moose calves and black bear cubs, and for fence sensitive species like pronghorn, that all have a hard time jumping. Lowering the top wire to no more than 42” off the ground and creating a gap of 12” between the top two wires reduces the likelihood of entanglement for jumping animals. Better yet, we can remove fencing altogether where it is no longer needed.

The other important piece to this is the age-old saying “good fences make good neighbors”. In our context, what this means is that people can come together and agree on the placement and structure of a fence. This gives us an entry point. Providing incentive-based conservation programs to landowners located in important wildlife habitats means we see results on the ground. And once one landowner adopts wildlife friendly fencing, it spreads throughout the valley via word of mouth. By working with public land agencies and private landowners, we’re changing the landscape across jurisdictions to better accommodate the needs of wildlife. Because wildlife don’t heed human-made boundaries – unless they’re made of barbed wire.

The author modifying fencing with volunteers
The author modifying fencing with volunteers
NWF staff/volunteers removed 2 mi of woven fence
NWF staff/volunteers removed 2 mi of woven fence
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Organization Information

National Wildlife Federation

Location: Reston, VA - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Kit Fischer
Reston , VA United States
$422,410 raised of $450,000 goal
 
2,276 donations
$27,590 to go
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