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Volunteers repair fence to manage cattle and give wolves space
RESERVE, NM-- WildEarth Guardians and fifteen volunteers spent the first weekend in October in a remote corner of the Gila National Forest repairing fences on the closed Deep Creek grazing allotment. On Saturday evening and early Sunday morning, volunteers were treated to a chorus of wolf howls from the Dark Canyon pack, who have historically denned on the allotment. This summer was the first time wolves have been heard on Deep Creek since Guardians facilitated its closure in 2014.
“This project was a great opportunity to partner with the Forest Service and other conservation groups to improve resource and watershed conditions,” said the Greater Gila Guardian Madeleine Carey. “And hearing the Dark Canyon pack closed the circle on the allotment buyout. The cows are gone, the wolves are back, and we are making progress towards a wilder Gila.”
Volunteers and staff from WildEarth Guardians, Defenders of Wildlife, the El Paso Zoo, and New Mexico State University made repairs to a boundary fence that separates an actively grazed allotment from the closed Deep Creek allotment and removed hundreds of yards of old barbed wire. Wildfires, elk, cattle, and even people cause damage to fences, sometimes completely tearing them 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.