Volunteer holding barbed wire.

A Win for Wildlife on Walton Ranch

Over time, livestock fencing breaks down in harsh Wyoming elements and becomes difficult to repair. This was the case for the perimeter fencing on West Gros Ventre Butte at Walton Ranch, 1,840 acres protected by JHLT conservation easement since 1983. In partnership with the landowners and Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation (JHWF), the Jackson Hole Land Trust seized the opportunity to replace the dilapidated delineator with wildlife-friendlier fencing.

The Jackson Hole Land Trust strives to partner with landowners to enhance conservation values on their property. When the time came to replace fencing, the ranch selected a wildlife-friendlier design for their 3-strand wire fence, which incorporates a smooth bottom strand to easily allow young elk, deer, and moose to slip under the fence when needed.

Recognizing that their fencing was placed in a core habitat area for ungulates, the ranch also took an additional step to further modify the fence for wildlife movement. With animal tracking data shared by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the JHLT and the JHWF selected specific areas of high wildlife activity. In these corridors, the top fence wire was lowered several inches, and a solid wooden top rail was placed over the wire to prevent entanglement of any animal jumping over the fence. Although the entire replacement fence height is within “wildlife-friendly” design specifications, these lower, safer gaps in the fence should further ensure wildlife are able to easily pass through the area for many years to come.

Though Wyoming is a “fence-out” state that does not require ranches to contain cattle within fenced pastures, the ranch’s perimeter fencing provides an important benefit to neighboring landowners in the busy corridor between Jackson and Wilson. Wildlife-friendly fences are key in keeping cattle off adjacent lands while allowing ungulates the best chance of moving across private property.

The Jackson Hole Land Trust seeks to partner with landowners to ensure conservation is successful on the ground. Our network of partner organizations and conservation landowners ensures the legacy of protected open spaces, wildlife habitat, working lands, and community spaces continue to inspire current and future generations across Northwest Wyoming. If you are a conservation landowner with a project in mind, please reach out!