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Volunteers repair fence to manage cattle and give wolves space
RESERVE, NM-- WildEarth Guardians and twenty volunteers spent the weekend in a remote corner of the Gila National Forest repairing fences on a cattle grazing allotment. Closed to grazing in 2014, the 44 square mile Deep Creek Allotment is home to prime wildlife habitat and a fragile watersheds. Decades of cattle grazing damaged sensitive areas and created conflicts with Mexican wolves, but now the Deep Creek is getting a chance to recover.
“This project was a great opportunity to partner with the Forest Service and other conservation groups to improve resource and watershed conditions,” said Gila Campaign Fellow Madeleine Carey. “And giving wolves space to be wolves can reduce conflicts with livestock.”
Volunteers and staff from WildEarth Guardians, Defenders of Wildlife and the Southwest Environmental Center made repairs to a boundary fence that separates several grazing allotments. Wildfires, elk, cattle, and even people cause damage to the fence, sometimes completely tearing it down. Maintaining a solid fence line is labor-intensive, but critical for managing cattle and allowing sensitive resources to recover.
“Projects like this are critical to creating coexistence between cattle and wolves” said Michael Dax, New Mexico Outreach Representative for Defenders of Wildlife. “Multi-stakeholder collaboration is essential to the survival of the Mexican wolf.”
The Greater Gila Bioregion is an extraordinarily wild area, yet large portions of it remain unprotected. A growing number of stakeholders are making the Gila a conservation priority and collaborating to protect and restore its exceptional resources.
With the last undammed river in the southwest and a recovering Mexican wolf population, the Gila, like Yellowstone, is a crown jewel of western ecosystems. Protecting its rivers and delicate riparian areas are critical to long-term conservation in the region.