Absaroka Fence Initiative


CODY, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) – On a Friday morning in June, more than a dozen people gathered in a parking area at the boundary of the Shoshone National Forest west of Cody.

Their task? To take down dangerous barbed wire fences that can catch wildlife in its snares.

The Absaroka Fence Initiative is a partnership of federal agencies, private landowners and local volunteers with a common goal – to enhance wildlife movements and reduce wildlife mortality, while still meeting the needs of livestock producers.

On this particular workday, the volunteers and staff from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the Shoshone National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management are taking down or replacing five different sections of fence, according to Kerry Murphy, wildlife biologist with the Shoshone National Forest.

“We worked with all the landowners along the fence line we’re going to be working today,” Murphy said. “Some of them didn’t want their fence modified, or removed. Some of them just wanted it modified, and some of them wanted the wire removed.”

One of the landowners volunteering their time on this Friday morning is Jason Schultz, who with his neighbor Margie Johnson and other local landowners, have already gathered up yards of dangerous barbed wire after witnessing animals getting caught up in it.

“The animals come down or go up the mountain, and then they can’t see the fence line because it’s just loose and strewn around, and they get tripped up on it,” Schultz said.

Schultz’s neighbor, Margie Johnson, pointed out that the work being done today will help wildlife, but won’t affect the humans who rely on the fencing.

“The fence posts will stay so we know where the forest is, but it’ll be way safer,” said Johnson. “And I understand where they do need to put the fence that they’ve got smooth wire and it goes lower, so that the animals can go over it.”

The Absaroka Fence Initiative truly is a public-private partnership in the best sense of the term, according to Murphy, in which volunteers, landowners and federal agencies are working to help the wildlife.

“They all come together to form the Absaroka Fence Initiative, and it’s a great bunch of folks working together,” he said.

Copyright 2022 Wyoming News Now. All rights reserved.

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