Some animals will work hard to get into an area they don’t belong.
Yellowstone Regional Airport is now trying to mitigate that problem with construction of a $818,455 wildlife fence that will surround most of its perimeter and replace the current fence.
“This type of fence is just critical so we can keep animals away from the runway,” said Bruce Ransom, YRA operations director. “Even if a small animal gets hit out here, it can cause an amazing amount of damage.”
Ransom said the 18,300-foot-long wire fence is a project around 15 years in the works. The new fence will have metal posting and square holes that get smaller at its bottom that will prevent most animals from sneaking through.
“It sure helps protect the airport and the aircraft and the people,” said YRA director Aaron Buck.
The current wood and barbed-wire fence has been in place for at least 25 years. Its wooden posting is rotten and falling apart, and the fence holes are too big to prevent small animals like rabbits and cats and even bigger animals like fox and coyote from squeezing in, nor strong enough to withhold the occasional drunk driver from plowing through.
“A lot of times, dogs will dig under it and leave big gaps,” Ransom said. “Deer can easily get under those things and the last thing you want is a deer on the runway.”
Ransom said he has even seen a moose walking around the grounds before.
A similar fence was installed at the Sheridan County Airport in 2016 and Buck said the Natrona County International Airport in Casper is also in need of one in the near future.
Ransom expects the project to be completed by the end of October. Just like many businesses, the project was delayed more than a month this summer because of issues with receiving materials stemming from COVID-19-related supply chain problems.
A 3,300-foot-long chain link fence has already been installed near the Choice Aviation entrance. Ransom said it would be “phenomenally expensive” to install this material around the entire facility.
Ransom said the fence posts will be installed first and then the wiring strung after. The old fence and new fence will be removed and installed concurrently so no gaps will occur.
Andrew Campbell of SWi Fence and Supply said the project has some “challenges” due to inconsistent terrain around the fence area.
“As far as fence crews go, these guys are like remarkably good,” Ransom said.
Funding for the project is coming from the airport’s annual Federal Aviation Administration entitlement funding.