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New Fencing Eases Migration Route For Mule Deer

Stotting mule deer. Seen at Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada.
Steven Fine

Mule deer can migrate a little bit easier starting this year thanks to new fencing along their migration route. Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department replaced old livestock fencing this summer with the help of several partners including the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust Fund, Upper Green Muley Fanatics, Jonah Energy, and the Conservation Fund.

Mule deer migrate from Hoback, south of Jackson, to the Red Desert every year. It allows them to get the best vegetation and find the safest areas to raise fawns.

“Between Pinedale and Fremont lake is kind of a pinch point, bottleneck in that migration corridor,” said Mark Gocke, a spokesman for Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department.  

“This property is in this key property for the migration. So, protecting that land and having it not be developed is crucial for what’s determined to be the longest migration corridor in the lower 48 states,” said Gocke. 

There used to be old livestock fences in this critical 364-acre area that could entangle a deer trying to move through it. Gocke explained volunteers helped install new fencing this summer that allows deer to more easily move along their route.

“So that when animals jump over the barbed wire fence they don’t get entangled in it with their legs.” Gocke said, “and then also having the bottom wire up higher so that other animals can go under the bottom wire easily.” 

University of Wyoming has called this bottleneck point the most threatened portion of the migration route. The mule deer migration route is one of the largest big-game migration routes in North America.

Before Wyoming, Cooper McKim has reported for NPR stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. He's reported breaking news segments and features for several national NPR news programs. Cooper is the host of the limited podcast series Carbon Valley. Cooper studied Environmental Policy and Music. He's an avid jazz piano player, backpacker, and podcast listener.
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