May 2021 - 17

to June is key to reduce transmission between
them. Hazing elk away from livestock is
typically used to encourage and maintain
separation, but this may be difficult or
ineffective if barriers exist. On the Meeteetse
Rim, a grassy plateau at the base of Carter
Mountain where elk winter range and spring
livestock grazing sometimes overlap, fences
created barriers.
The Quarter Circle Eleven Ranch is a mix
of public and private lands converted from
sheep to cattle production more than 20 years
ago. The ranch had 11 miles of existing fence
consisting of five or six strands of barbed or
woven wires. With numerous perennial water
sources, habitat treatments to promote forage
for livestock and lack of human disturbance,
the ranch became attractive to wintering elk.
Over time, more elk used the ranch each
spring. Also, some elk elected to stay rather
than make seasonal movement creating a
continued risk of transmission to livestock.
In 2017, Game and Fish was busy with
several hazing operations on the ranch. It was
obvious that yearling and older elk could easily
clear the fence while calves looked for gates or
remained on the property. Females returned
to the pasture for their calves and nullified the
effects of hazing operations. Although healthy
elk calves aren't usually considered much of
a risk of transmitting brucellosis, the adult
females they attract back into the pasture are.
Ultimately, the fence needed to be modified
to facilitate elk movement.
Wildlife-friendly fences have been
implemented with increasing frequency
to help contain livestock and maintain
ungulate migrations, but the use of these
fences to potentially reduce risk of brucellosis
transmission was a new endeavor. Initial
meetings with the ranch owner, Bureau of
Land Management and Natural Resource
Conservation Service confirmed the need
for a new design. With immense time and
effort spent by the NRCS, the fence, wildlife
crossings and cultural sites were mapped;
funding was secured through the NRCS
and The Nature Conservancy, and materials
were provided by the BLM. With approval
from adjacent private landowners and land
management agencies, and the hiring of
a local fence contractor, the old fence was
removed and new fencing with four wires
and a pole-top at crossing locations was

This woven wire sheep fence posed a barrier for elk calves and hampered efforts for wildlife managers to haze elk away from
livestock. (WGFD photo)

Previous fencing at the Quarter Circle Eleven Ranch was difficult for elk and other wildlife to cross. New fencing placed at the ranch
is easier for wildlife to cross without injury. (WGFD photo)

constructed last summer.
Prior to conversion, trail cameras
deployed in partnership with the Meeteetse
Conservation District at fence crossings
confirmed a 60 percent failure rate of calves
attempting to cross the fence. Preliminary
results from cameras deployed in March
suggest an 82 percent success rate.

		

Based on the monitoring and a
promotional video produced by the Western
Landowners Alliance, this project has attracted
the attention of stakeholders with similar
issues in other areas of the country.
- Eric Maichak is a Wyoming Game and Fish
Department regional disease biologist in the Cody
Region.

Wyoming Wildlife | 17



May 2021

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