As another wildlife birthing season begins in Evergreen, the temptation for human and beast to run wild through our plentiful open spaces is large. To wander along trails to capture the beauty on our phones, through binoculars and with cameras is irresistible. For our wild herds, they continue to roam around their ranges and follow centuries-old migration paths. But a dangerous hazard lies waiting in many of these spaces for all, ghost barbed wire.
Most barbed wire found in spaces and on private property throughout Evergreen is left over from cattle ranching. In the case of Denver Mountain Parks (DMP), such as Dedisse Park, the wire is not needed except possibly in a few areas where land ownership demarcation is desired. The largest consequence of barbed wire is experienced by fawns who either get caught in the wire or end up abandoned when the mother jumps over and leaves them behind. Ninety percent of deer carcasses found near fences are fawns that were unable to cross, separated from their mothers left to hard fate. Elk calves may not be able to scale the 51–54-inch height of standard 5-strand barbed wire fence until they are larger. In January 2022, Christie Greene, Wild Aware founder and president, saw calves struggling to get over barbed wire. In Elk Meadow, the calves seen were not newborns, but much larger at 6-8 months old that time of year.
Even though all DMP and Jeffco Open Space parks, trails, and open spaces around Evergreen have on-leash requirements for dogs, there are still canine injuries from the ghost barbed wire fence, particularly near hiking trails and private property. In July 2022, Wild Aware began a Barbed Wire Removal program. The Barbed Wire Removal volunteer crew removed 200-250 linear feet of barbed wire at this first event. Thousands of miles of disused barbed wire fencing are still out there, endangering wildlife and other animals, especially deer fawn and elk calves.
If you feel motivated to remove this ubiquitous hazard, you can help. Volunteers are needed to continue removing ghost fence from Dedisse Park. Ryan Phillian, Denver Mountain Park Ranger, leads this effort. Those who will have participated at our June 17th event are asked to participate and bring friends to our remaining two events this summer on July 22 and August 19, meeting in the same Dedisse Park location at the picnic pavilion at 10 am, and returning to the pavilion by 1 pm with optional lunch provided. The online signup form will have the exact meeting location.
DMP will have some gloves and barbed wire cutters, but people are encouraged to bring their own gloves and eye protection (and specific barbed wire cutters if possible—regular wire cutters won’t work). Be prepared for inclement weather, sun, and bring water. Lunch is provided, but you must (please) indicate you will stay for lunch on the signup form.
Visit bit.ly/3Jblarw to sign up for the events. Your service is helping to make our wildlife safer.
For more information about Wild Aware, visit Wild Aware.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org