Greater Yellowstone: New Fences Help Elk on the Move

“It’s heartbreaking when you find animals that got caught and couldn’t get out.”

- Carrie Peters, Heart Mountain Ranch Preserve

Life can be stressful for elk traveling through the Greater Yellowstone in winter, with deep snow, predators on the hunt, food availability…and fences. 

Brian and Carrie Peters, The Nature Conservancy’s Heart Mountain Ranch Preserve managers, have seen how these human-made obstacles affect elk moving across the property and other nearby ranches. 

“We’ve found a number of elk tangled up in barbed wire on Heart Mountain,” says Carrie. 

“We’ve seen calves get separated from cows. It’s heartbreaking when you find animals that got caught and couldn’t get out.” 

That’s why the Conservancy started a major undertaking to tear down the ranch’s old barbed wire fences and install new wildlife-friendly fences.

More than six miles of the old fence line is gone—some yanked away by volunteers and ranch interns. The property now has more than seven miles of new fencing, a portion made from high-tensile wires attached to fiberglass posts that flex and snap back into place after wildlife move through. 

Your support has been critical to making this fence project possible—your dollars helped the Conservancy match funds from the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Nancy Carroll Draper Fund, and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. 

Heart Mountain’s elk herd is iconic in the Greater Yellowstone.

When the snow flies, up to 1,200 elk can be seen traveling in a long, single-file line from the Sunlight Basin, toward the top of Heart Mountain, and down into the surrounding farm fields. 

“People get so excited when they see large groups of elk,” says Carrie. “It’s really an awesome sight to see them trailing at daylight across the mountain.” 

Your support helps us keep Heart Mountain Ranch Preserve wild and working. Donate today!


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