From a distance, it looks like your typical Bobcat. But up close, you notice a custom upgrade that allows this piece of machinery to do the work of many hands in a fraction of the time.
It’s part of an ongoing project in southeast Idaho near Arco to retrofit fences to wildlife-friendly specifications, create crossings and/or remove fencing to allow pronghorn, elk and other wildlife to move freely along an established migration corridor, all while reducing entanglements and injuries.
The Bobcat features a fence-gathering spool in the place of a front-end shovel. Strands of the old fencing are attached to it, which then pulls in and wraps up the wires on the spool. In 2022, workers removed more than five miles of old fencing across plots owned by three different landowners, replacing it with wildlife-friendly fencing. They also removed two more miles of fencing to be replaced in 2023.
Seven producers already signed up to replace more than 21 miles of fence and remove one mile of unneeded fence once the snow melts this year. Two landowners did not sign up but have interest to remove three miles of old fencing and remove ¾ mile of unneeded fence.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation supplied funding along with the Idaho Fish and Game Department (IDFG), Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Bureau of Land Management.
(Photo source: Idaho Fish and Game Department)