July 2021 - 17

Bureau of Land Management, neighboring
Game and Fish managers and adjacent
landowners and permittees were presented
with some of these ideas and gave feedback
to improve them last summer.
The type of modification proposed
depended on the specific needs of individual
stretches of highway. Some fences in locations
with the most animal movement were
proposed to be rebuilt to a more wildlifefriendly,
four-wire fence. Other locations
were identified to build more complex
structures designed to allow pronghorn
movement, but also keep livestock out of the
highway right of way. The timing of livestock
being on the range frequently coincides with
spring and fall pronghorn migrations, which
necessitated a solution that allowed both
animal uses to coexist.
An equipment operator drills holes to provide new fencing for safer wildlife crossings near Wyoming Highway 789. (WGFD photo)
After seeing the difficulties
faced by pronghorn during
severe winters, the Wyoming
Game and Fish Department
and the Little Snake River
Conservation District
brainstormed ideas for a
more effective and safe
pronghorn migration.
Dirt ramp " jump outs " would be
constructed near these structures to allow
pronghorn that do not immediately cross the
highway to still escape the right of way. Two
sets of these structures were fabricated and
installed by LSRCD in fall 2020 about 15
miles north of Baggs to test the concept. The
layout included a pair of 16-foot gates on each
side of the highway which could be swung
open during the winter when pronghorn
migrate out of deeper snow and there are no
livestock present. Outside of each gate, steelbraced
posts were built so the bottom two
bars could be removed. This allows pronghorn
to pass under the structure while keeping
livestock off the highway with gates closed,
particularly in the spring when pronghorn are
migrating back to summer ranges.
The two sets of test structures were
Game Warden Kim Olson spotted and photographed these pronghorn tracks passing through open gates constructed along Wyoming
Highway 789. (WGFD photo)
installed in time for pronghorn migration
last fall, but the winter was not severe and
pronghorn generally did not need to move
west into the Red Desert to escape. However,
one day while driving north along the
highway, Game Warden Kim Olson observed
a trail of pronghorn tracks passing through
the open gates and successfully across the
highway. Trail cameras also have been used
to monitor the structures and a couple dozen
groups of pronghorn have passed through
the open gates this spring. Getting photo
evidence of pronghorn slipping under the
bars might be tough, but managers believe
it is bound to happen.
Hopefully, with a more open highway
corridor and additional structures and
modifications planned for the coming years,
this is only the start of easier migration for
pronghorn across Wyoming Highway 789.
- Phil Damm is a wildlife biologist for the Wyoming
Game and Fish Department in Baggs.
Wyoming Wildlife | 17

July 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of July 2021

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