Fence removal in Wilderness Study Area in Wyoming benefits wildlife

Story and photos by Jared Oakleaf, Lander Field Office Outdoor Recreation Planner.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wyoming Lander Field Office, in partnership with Wyoming Wilderness Association, Friends of Dubois Badlands, and National Bighorn Sheep Center, hosted a fence pull in June in the Dubois Badlands Wilderness Study Area (WSA). The fence was no longer needed by the grazing permittee and removing it improved wilderness characteristics and wildlife migrations in this critical area. Close to a mile of barbed wire fence was removed, enabling wildlife to more easily navigate the landscape.

A volunteer rolls up barbed wire fence under a blue sky with mountains in the background.
A volunteer rolls up barbed wire fence.

"We had 15 volunteers and they all worked extremely hard," said BLM Outdoor Recreation Planner Jared Oakleaf. "Their appreciation and sense of stewardship toward their public lands is contagious."

Participants ranged in age from two to 78.

rolls of barbed wire lie in the grass under a blue sky
Close to a mile of unneeded barbed wire fence was removed.
grassy landscape with a line of fence posts
Fifteen volunteers and staff from partnering groups cut the barbed wire from close to a mile of fence line.

The Town of Dubois is surrounded by the remarkably scenic and wild Dubois Badlands WSA. The WSA is home to the nation’s largest free-ranging winter elk herd (which summers in Yellowstone) and a large herd of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. As a big bonus, public land in the Dubois area also contains important habitat for Canada lynx, grey wolf and grizzly bear.

Scenic landscape of the Dubois Badlands Wilderness Study Area: red cliffs and a blue stream
The Dubois Badlands Wilderness Study Area is known for its spectacular scenery, unique geology, and an abundance of wildlife. (Photo by Bob Wick)