Winter range is considered among the most limited habitat type for elk and other wildlife. And in northern New Mexico, accessing it can be extremely difficult or deadly.
That’s why the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Bureau of Land Management Taos (pronunciation: rhymes with “mouse”) Field Office and New Mexico Departments of Transportation and Game and Fish collaborated to make crucial winter range more accessible for wildlife.
RMEF provided $15,000 in grant funding that leveraged an additional $45,000 in partner dollars to purchase and install eight miles of lay-down fencing within the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument on the Taos Plateau.
Not only is this particular area a high density movement zone for elk, mule deer and pronghorn antelope, but it’s identified as one of New Mexico’s priority landscapes in the state’s action plan for improving habitat quality in winter range and migration corridors.
Forbs and browse are life-sustaining when snow hits the high country and big game drop below 7,500 feet looking for forage.
Construction of this lay-down fencing provides safe passage through this key migration corridor and across the landscape. It also reduces the likelihood of wildlife-vehicle collisions along this stretch of U.S. Highway 285.
(quick nat sound up full of elk calf being freed from fencing)
Livestock fencing is sometimes cumbersome and even deadly for wildlife.
Lay-down fencing does exactly that – it is laid down for the winter as wildlife migrates, and put back up when livestock returns in the spring.
Additionally, the wire spacing allows for safe wildlife movement when the fence is up and livestock is present.
Lay-down fencing is a win-win for wildlife, winter range, ranchers, livestock and motorists.
Dating back to 2008, RMEF granted more than $67,000 for a variety of habitat enhancement projects on the Taos Plateau.
Restoring elk country is core to RMEF’s Managed Lands Initiative.
Since 1984, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners completed more than 12,600 conservation and hunting heritage projects that protected or enhanced more than 7.9 million acres of wildlife habitat.