Walls work! Different walls have different purposes. In Montana, we have an American border. Many land owners currently build walls, barriers, and fencing to keep critters out of gardens, tree farms, and protected spaces. Fencing is also along our roadways.
We also have an immigration crisis that needs attention.
Deer infected with CWD, Chronic Wasting Disease, are migrating into North Central Montana. It turns out that Canadian Game Farms have had many undocumented, infected deer escape their fenced areas. Their Barriers failed to work so now these infected deer are in the wild. Other American Game farms have also had issues with CWD.
CWD was first documented in Montana in 2017. These deer were on the Wyoming border south of Billings. They were the likely lost deer from USA game farms. Up until 2018, 26 deer in Montana tested positive for CWD. Most of these deer came from North Central Montana above the Hi-Line and Highway 2. The actual numbers and locations are available on the MT FWP webpage.
CWD is not infectious to humans, yet. It can devastate wild game herds. Future hunting could be at risk unless we find a way to manage this disease. Deer can be infected and not show symptoms for several years. The disease can be transmitted from waste, fluid, and other contact. It can remain infectious in the environment for years.
Deer Fencing needs to be 8 feet tall! Deer are incredible jumpers. They can also clear a 14-foot-wide stream or obstruction in a single bound. Metal fencing works but is not a natural looking option. New heavy-duty nylon web material is opaque and less obtrusive. Barriers can work until they are breeched by an avalanche, fallen tree, deep snow, or a Grizzly, Moose, or bull elk encounter. Fencing needs to regularly patrolled and managed.
Building deer barriers that are double, parallel fences works best. Angled fencing is also an option. Electric fences work if the power is on. To educate deer to an electric fence, hang aluminum foil onto it coated with peanut butter. Deer will figure out the boundary lickety split!
Walls will not save us from CWD. Hopefully legislation, and Science research, managing healthy deer herds and Deer Game Farms, will find solutions to prevent CWD from destroying deer and deer hunting.
Future Border Barriers could be in our future. Ironically, one of the largest wall contractors along the Mexican Border is from Montana. Our northern border is also less secure. Walls don’t just impact people, they also impact critters.
For more Montana Grant, find him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.