One of the work parties that helped removed 1,500 metres of wire fencing from the Pend D’Oreille Valley this year. of Photo: TWA

One of the work parties that helped removed 1,500 metres of wire fencing from the Pend D’Oreille Valley this year. of Photo: TWA

West Kootenay seniors do the hard work to restore habitat

Barbed wire fencing has impeded wildlife movement through the Pend d’Oreille Valley corridor

Nearing a year of benevolent toil by volunteers with the Trail Wildlife Association (TWA) along with the help of two work parties and a heap of time freely given from small groups and individuals, nearly 1,500 metres of wire fencing was removed from the Pend d’Oreille Valley.

Why now?

For 30 years a barbed wire barrier has impeded wildlife movement through this critical corridor, and the sharp ended steel caused injury and/or entangled deer and other ungulates unable to clear the fence height.

TWA photo showing animal fur entangled in barbed wire fencing.

TWA photo showing animal fur entangled in barbed wire fencing.

The feat to remove such difficult-to-handle fencing is particularly impressive given the age of the volunteers, says TWA executive member Rick Fillmore.

The youngest fence removers are in their 60s, and the oldest— Laurie Bursaw—is 90-years-old.

“Removing the fencing took considerable effort, especially to pull the metal posts from the rocky ground,” Fillmore adds. “But the volunteers we had were up to the task.”

The three-strand barbed wired fence, installed in the 1990s to keep cattle off a restored right-of-way, cut across this important wildlife corridor for species such as white-tailed deer.

“Some could jump it, but others got snagged and injured,” explains John Gwilliam, TWA executive member. “The fence served no purpose and was a threat to wildlife and an eyesore on the landscape.”

The Trail Wildlife Association is now exploring additional opportunities to remove fencing in the Pend d’Oreille Valley to help wildlife, so future work is expected for this small but mighty team.

This first arm of work was supported with funding from the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program and FortisBC.

The association started in 1925 as The Trail Rod and Gun Club. In the late 60’s the name was changed to the Trail Wildlife Association.

Since then the TWA has been run as a voluntary conservation organization that works on the protection, enhancement and wise use of environment for the benefit of present and future generations.

Trail cams set up last month where the old fence used to run have already captured ungulates, like this bull elk, moving through the area unimpeded. The cameras also picked up white-tailed deer and black bear. Photo: TWA

Trail cams set up last month where the old fence used to run have already captured ungulates, like this bull elk, moving through the area unimpeded. The cameras also picked up white-tailed deer and black bear. Photo: TWA

The association strives to work with government ministries and other conservation organizations to develop sustainable fish and wildlife practices. Members encourage responsible recreation related to the enjoyment of wildlife and they engage local students in their fish and wildlife project work. TWA also manages and provides safe and secure firearms and archery facilities at the Casino gun range.

To learn more about TWA projects or if you are interested in becoming a member visit: trailwildlife.com.

Read more: Pend d’Oreille, what does it mean and where is it?

Read more: Kootenay conservation partners plant pollinator ‘superfoods’ at Fort Shepherd

Read more: Trail Wildlife Association looking for new members

Read more: Trail Wildlife Association aims for gun range purchase



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