“The moose died right there in that corner,” Shane Yaskus said, pointing to the southwest fence line of Mount Moriah Cemetery Thursday morning.
As Yaskus, a Butte-based Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park game warden, talked about the dangers the cemetery’s historic fence poses to wildlife, a crew comprised of FWP employees, volunteers from Skyline Sportsmen, cemetery maintenance workers, and a county animal control officer installed flexible sprinkler piping along the top of the fence in an effort to protect moose, deer, and other animals from its sharp points and narrow gaps.
With temperatures barely above 40 degrees, the piping wasn’t as flexible — or as easy to install — as it had been during a test run the day before, Yaskus said. That left the crew searching for ways to force it into place.
Don Jipp, a Mount Moriah maintenance worker, used a rubber mallet. Sam Milodragovich, a Skyline Sportsmen member, used a plank of wood: “That’s the way to do her right there.”
According to Yaskus, the project wouldn’t have been possible without the cemetery’s cooperation, volunteers like Milodragovich, and assistance from Skyline Sportsmen, which paid for the pipe, and Northwest Pipe Fittings, which sold the pipe to the group at cost and cut it into sections.
While optimistic the piping would help, Yaskus noted that a new, 7-to-8-foot fence would be ideal, as it would be high enough to keep animals out entirely. For now, though, Yaskus said the cost of something like that is prohibitive.
“But down the road,” Yaskus said, “that would be the long-term solution.”
In the meantime, those involved were hoping the pipe they had on hand would be enough to prevent any further animal deaths along the fence.
According to Jipp, four deer in addition to the one calf moose have died after getting caught so far this year. While such deaths have been happening for a decade or so, Jipp and Yaskus agree incidents are on the rise as wildlife populations in Butte and on the edge of town have increased.
Before the 400 feet of pipe had been installed Thursday, the Skyline members helping out were already offering to do whatever it took to ensure the project was completed and enough pipe was available.
“We’re willing to buy more,” said Ron Thompson, a Skyline member.