Conservation group documents wildlife barriers with remote cameras

Billings Gazette | December 31, 2012 7:00 am  •  KARL PUCKETT Great Falls Tribune

GREAT FALLS — Two antelope met nose-to-nose one day in March in northeastern Montana, a barbed-wire fence keeping them on opposite sides of the prairie.

Unknown to the pronghorn, a camera mounted on a nearby fence post was capturing the fence-line rendezvous, one photograph per second.

Remote cameras, installed by The Nature Conservancy of Montana (TNC) at its 60,000-acre Matador Ranch in south Phillips County, are documenting barriers conventional fences pose to wildlife in a project meant to spur modifications that are more “wildlife friendly.”

And fences like the one separating the two pronghorn are no small barrier to the fastest animal on the North American plains, which doesn’t jump well despite blazing speed, says Brian Martin, TNC’s director of science in Montana.

He says proof of the need for fencing improvements is in the photographs because “seeing is believing.”

“We’re not re-fencing all of southern Phillips County,” Martin said. “We just want to make sure there are places where pronghorn pass through.”

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