Pronghorns Struggle with the Fences of the Sawtooth NRA

Driving along the base of the Sawtooth Mountains and seeing pronghorn antelope wandering the valley is a truly special experience.  It is one of many that make the Sawtooth National Recreation Area so incredible.  But the Sawtooth NRA is an amalgamation of private and public land and uses and, as such, fences segment it.  The iconic woodworm fences are not the only ones to stand in the Stanley basin.  Barbed wired and mesh wire fences also weave through the land.

In a recent article in the Mountain Express, a study of pronghorn antelope found that these fences are causing major problems for their migratory patterns.  The pronghorns are built for speed. They are considered to be the second fastest animal on earth behind the cheetah.  They are not, however, built to jump high.  So, unlike the other ungulates that roam the Sawtooth Basin, the antelope cannot generally jump over the many fences in its path.  Instead, pronghorns duck under them.

Unfortunately, there are many fences in the Sawtooth NRA that either have mesh wire that goes all the way to the ground or very lowly wired barb.  Because of this, antelope either get caught in the fence attempting to go under them or have to travel miles out of their way each time they encounter a fence. As a result, in some places antelope are abandoning particular migratory paths because of the numerous fences they encounter.

The potential for antelope to disappear in the Sawtooth NRA is disheartening.  In an attempt to keep this from happening, the Sawtooth Society, in partnership with the Forest Service, is offering several opportunities for people to volunteer their time to remove low barbed wire and mesh fences.  With the help of volunteers, the antelope of the Sawtooth NRA will return year after year and avoid the risk of injury due to fencing.

Join us on July 20th – July 22nd for three days of fence work.  Help protect the beautiful pronghorn antelope of the Sawtooths. Email Dalton Warr at dalton@sawtoothsociety.org and sign up today.