Announcing The Pronghorn Fund: Safeguarding Wyoming’s Iconic Wildlife Legacy

Pronghorn, often referred to as the crown jewel of Wyoming’s wildlife, symbolize the state’s unique natural heritage. Their graceful presence has captivated generations, embodying the spirit of the untamed West. Wyoming has the largest intact pronghorn herds in North America. In the wake of the massive winter die-off of 2022-23, coupled with habitat loss and changes brought on by human development, Wyoming’s iconic pronghorn population is struggling. More species-specific research and projects are needed to preserve this iconic population, all of which requires funding.

Rich and Mary Guenzel, long-time Wyoming residents, are eager to provide this funding. They are the generous donors behind the new Pronghorn Fund, a permanently endowed fund within The WYldlife Fund to advance pronghorn habitat, research, and education in Wyoming. With an initial investment of $350,000, investment earnings from this fund will be put to work in the protection of Wyoming’s pronghorn.

Photo courtesy of the Wyoming Game & Fish Department

Photo courtesy of the Wyoming Game & Fish Department

This new fund represents a pivotal moment in The WYldlife Fund’s unwavering commitment to wildlife conservation in Wyoming. It serves as a shining example of how individuals can channel their passion for Wyoming’s wildlife into tangible impact through restricted gifts to The WYldlife Fund. The Guenzels’ profound dedication to pronghorn conservation exemplifies this ethos, and we are thrilled to offer them a platform to make a lasting difference in safeguarding this iconic species. Whether you share a passion for pronghorn or any other member of Wyoming’s wildlife, The WYldlife Fund stands ready to collaborate with you in any capacity to contribute to the conservation efforts of your chosen population.

Furthermore, while we recognize and applaud the invaluable efforts of various NGOs across the state dedicated to caring for a number of specific species, The WYldlife Fund now positions itself as a premier organization for those passionate about pronghorn conservation. With the establishment of The Pronghorn Fund, we invite individuals seeking to make a targeted contribution to pronghorn conservation to join us in our mission to protect and preserve these remarkable animals for generations to come.

Last week, we spoke with Rich to learn more about what this species means to him and his wife. “I’d always enjoyed seeing them as a kid,” Rich said. “I grew up in Texas and my parents would take me camping and visiting national parks in Colorado and Wyoming. We would go through the panhandle of Texas and into New Mexico–that was where we’d usually see the first glimpses of pronghorn.” His fascination began there. “The more I learned, the more fascinated by them I became.”

As a young man, Rich moved to Wyoming to attend college at the University of Wyoming, where he studied wildlife biology. He then became a state biologist in the Laramie region, dedicating the next 25 years to the research, conservation, and management of pronghorn, among numerous other species. It was during this time that he met his wife, Mary, who worked as an occupational therapist. They bonded over their shared love of the outdoors and activities like hiking, camping, cross-country skiing, and nature photography. The rest, as they say, is history.

Mary & Rich Guenzel

As a biologist, Rich’s contributions to pronghorn research and management were instrumental in shaping conservation efforts across the region. Now retired, he and Mary want to give back to the species that encapsulates their beloved home state and, more broadly, the West. “There is no better large mammal in Wyoming that exemplifies the character of our state than the pronghorn,” Rich said.

The WYldlife Fund is proud to provide the foundation on which to build The Pronghorn Fund. This fund represents a new chapter in The WYldlife Fund’s commitment to conservation in Wyoming. It will prioritize investments in key areas critical to pronghorn conservation. These include:

    • Habitat Restoration: Supporting initiatives to restore and conserve pronghorn habitats, particularly their winter ranges. Recent findings from Hall Sawyer and Andrew Telander highlight the pressing issue of unavailable pronghorn habitat in the Red Desert, with an estimated 104,000 acres rendered inaccessible due to exclusionary/woven wire fencing (Sawyer & Telander, 2024). The Pronghorn Fund offers an immediate opportunity to address this critical habitat loss and provide essential support to pronghorn populations devastated by last winter’s challenges.
  • Fence exclusion areas in the Red Desert (Sawyer & Telander, 2024)

    • Migration Protection: Contributing to the establishment and maintenance of wildlife corridors to help pronghorn migrate safely across their habitat. This includes land protection, wildlife-friendly fencing solutions, and wildlife crossings and underpasses.
    • Scientific Research: Funding research projects aimed at better understanding pronghorn behavior, habitat needs, and the threats they face.
    • Education and Outreach: Developing educational programs to raise awareness about the importance of pronghorn conservation and the delicate balance of Wyoming’s ecosystems.
    • Community Engagement: Collaborating with local communities to implement conservation initiatives and foster stewardship of pronghorn habitats.

As stewards of Wyoming’s natural heritage, the establishment of The Pronghorn Fund represents a milestone in our collective commitment to conservation. Through collaboration and innovation, we have the opportunity to ensure that pronghorns continue to roam freely across Wyoming’s landscapes for generations to come. With the support of individuals, organizations, and communities, we can safeguard the future of these iconic creatures and preserve the wild spirit of the West. Together, we embark on a journey to protect Wyoming’s crown jewel—the pronghorn.

If you are interested in making a direct gift, or learning more about naming The Pronghorn Fund in your estate planning, please reach out to Chris McBarnes at 307-316-3863 or

Photo courtesy of the Wyoming Game & Fish Department

Works Cited: 
Sawyer, H., & Telander, A. (2024). Lander Region/Red Desert Pronghorn Study. Laramie: Western Ecosystems Technology, Inc.

Introducing the Pronghorn Pilsner: A Brew for Wildlife Conservation!

Beginning in 2022, WYldlife for Tomorrow (WFT), a signature program of The WYldlife Fund, began looking for opportunities to develop co-branded products that included Wyoming-brewed beer. Together with students from the University of Wyoming’s Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources Student Ambassador Program, WFT has been able to establish crucial partnerships with Wyoming businesses across the state. Early partnerships included limited releases with both Altitude Chophouse and Brewery of Laramie and Roadhouse Brewing Company in Jackson. These beers were sold exclusively in-house with a portion of the proceeds supporting WYldlife for Tomorrow. This early support from the craft brewing community provided a “proof of concept” that we’re forever grateful to say has resulted in a permanent craft beer that supports Wyoming’s wildlife! 

The WYldlife Fund is thrilled to announce that WFT has continued its amazing efforts at developing co-branded products with Wyoming-based companies. We have partnered with Wind River Brewing in Pinedale, WY, to create a co-branded beer that will be a permanent fixture in their lineup: the Pronghorn Pilsner. Austin Bevilacqua, sales representative for Wind River Brewing, described it as “about as beer as beer can get.” Given the pilsner’s history as one of the oldest styles of beer, it was a no-brainer to brew up a new beer that would be popular among all beer-lovers.

When asked about the motivations behind this partnership, Bevilacqua said, “We thought this was a unique opportunity to help with wildlife and we wanted to dive into it wholeheartedly.” This partnership speaks to the roots of the brewery’s owners and head brewers. Sam Mosle, Wind River Brewing’s head brewer, previously worked in natural resource management and wildlife conservation, working for four different state agencies in the west, and holds both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in natural resource management. What’s more, the brewery’s owners (since 2017) are passionate about the outdoors: Derek Schupp is a lifelong angler, and Roy DeWitt grew up playing in the mountains of his Pinedale backyard, the Wind River Range. The WYldlife Fund and WFT are thrilled to be working so closely with a business whose brand so closely aligns with our mission.

The Pronghorn Pilsner is being distributed throughout Wyoming and can be found on tap, in six-packs, and in cases. At the brewery $1 for every pint sold goes directly to WYldlife for Tomorrow, while on the distribution side about 8% of sales go to WFT. Thus far, sales of the Pronghorn Pilsner have raised about $5,000 for wildlife!

Bevilacqua went on to say, “The partnership with WYldlife for Tomorrow has been so beneficial in so many ways, bringing new experiences to the brewery. We have seen connections made through the great team at WFT and the many great relationships they have in the conservation sector. In our taproom in Pinedale, we have seen the Pronghorn Pilsner become our highest velocity offering since its launch last October. First and foremost, the liquid is high quality, and adding in the element of donating to conserve wildlife in our state makes it a no-brainer for our customers. Simply put, this endeavor with WFT has provided unique value which we are starting to see make an impact in conserving one of Wyoming’s greatest assets, and we couldn’t be more excited to continue this journey.”

Head brewer Sam Mosle

Given that this beer is a permanent member of Wind River Brewing’s lineup, the Pronghorn Pilsner is the first beer of its kind in Wyoming. We like to think of it as the banquet beer for wildlife, and it will be available for years to come, giving back to wildlife the entire time! What’s more, the beer’s label was designed by Haub School students, adding more local flair to this great product. The WYldlife Fund’s Operations Manager, Nate Brown is proud to say that “Wyoming businesses can follow in Wind River Brewing Company’s footsteps by taking the opportunity to build a lasting co-branded product that keeps wildlife on the landscape.” 

Interested in getting the Pronghorn Pilsner into your local bar, liquor store, or taproom? Wind River Brewing is eager to make it happen! We encourage you to reach out to them–our wildlife thanks you! 

The next time you find yourself craving a cold one at the end of a long day of playing and exploring Wyoming’s incredible landscape, we hope you’ll order a Pronghorn Pilsner and toast to the amazing wildlife that calls this state home.

Remember to drink responsibly and support wildlife conservation, one beer at a time!



Table Mountain Outfitters Hunting Program

Last summer, The WYldlife Fund (The Fund) established a unique partnership with Table Mountain Outfitters (TMO), a full-time guided hunting service based out of Cheyenne. The new program created opportunities for youth, women, and wounded warriors to experience hunting and the numerous steps that go into planning and executing a hunt. This initiative serves as a platform for learning essential skills and fostering a deeper connection to nature.

The roots of the TMO hunt trace back to a desire to extend hunting opportunities to those who face barriers to entry. TMO has a longstanding commitment to providing appreciation and gratitude hunts, particularly for wounded warriors, with 1-2 hunts per year. TMO has been operating since 1984, guiding hunts for deer, elk, and pronghorn in Wyoming, and black bear, mountain lion, and elk in Idaho.

The connection with The Fund was established when TMO expressed a passion for involving youth, women, and individuals who otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to experience hunting for themselves due to physical or financial barriers. “This program presented a unique opportunity for individuals who might not otherwise have access to such experiences, providing them with a chance to connect with nature and engage in a traditional outdoor activity,” said Angie and Scott Denny, owners of Table Mountain Outfitters since 1996. “By collaborating with local ranchers, the program aimed to address the issue of surplus elk populations in a mutually beneficial manner. This cooperative effort not only allowed participants to enjoy the thrill of hunting but also contributed to wildlife management by helping control elk numbers in an environmentally responsible way. Through this partnership, we fostered a sense of community engagement and conservation, and we are honored to have worked alongside The WYldlife Fund to bring this program to life.”

The surplus elk population, as well local ranchers granting access to their properties, presented an opportunity to provide these hunting experiences. The Fund was eager to bring this idea to life and provide the necessary funds, establishing the first year of what we hope will become an annual program, one that can serve as a model for others to replicate elsewhere.

The hunts took place from August 10-22, catering to various groups over three days each. The participants included 10 wounded warriors, 4 moms with 4 kids, 6 women, 6 youth aged 14-18. The kids and women were Wyoming residents while the wounded warriors hailed from all over.

Participants needed to apply, answering open-ended essay questions. The selection process was aimed at finding individuals with significant lack of opportunities to engage in hunting.

TMO and The Fund partnered with Flying V Lodge and Event Center in Newcastle, WY to provide food and lodging for the program. Larry and Twylla Napolitano, owners of Flying V, were instrumental in establishing partnerships with neighboring ranchers to allow hunting on their properties.

The program itself went beyond the hunt, focusing on imparting essential skills. Participants were walked through the range, given insights into the hunting experience, and prepared for the emotional aspects of the journey. Downtime activities included cooking, grilling, and fishing. Practical skills such as field dressing, quartering, and meat processing were also emphasized.

We spoke with Katie King, one of the program participants, to hear a bit more about her transformative time in the program and what it meant to her. She described it as a life-changing experience, adding, “Words can’t express how incredible and memorable this opportunity was…truly an unforgettable experience. I formed precious friendships, conquered fears, learned valuable skills, helped fill my freezer and provide food for my family. This program has successfully fostered a life-long passion for hunting. Nothing can quite replace the feeling of gratitude when I enjoyed my first meal with my family…knowing exactly where it came from and being intimately involved in every piece of the process.”

Other participants shared similar sentiments, describing the program as providing newfound confidence, new friendships, and lifelong memories. Kelly Upplegger, another participant, said, “Words cannot express how grateful I am for the life changing experience you gifted us.  I learned so much!  Not just about hunting, but about myself.  I came away stronger, more confident, and with an even greater appreciation of, and gratitude for, the hunt.  The bonded friendships we made are absolutely priceless, so the trip lives on!”

The obvious success of this program has set the bar high! The program stands as a beacon of inclusivity, breaking down barriers to entry in the world of hunting. With a commitment to providing transformative experiences, imparting essential skills, and fostering a deep connection to nature, TMO and The Fund have created an annual event that leaves participants with memories and skills that last a lifetime. As the program looks to the future, the goal is to make this an annual tradition, dependent on resources, potentially expanding to different locations to reach even more individuals eager to explore the great outdoors.

We are grateful to the many supporters who made this event possible, including our very own board member Greg and Loren Hill.

I-25 Kaycee to Buffalo Wildlife Crossing

The WYldlife Fund (The Fund) embarked on its inaugural large-scale project, the I-25 Kaycee to Buffalo Wildlife Crossing Project, with a remarkable contribution exceeding $350,000. We are elated to share that the project has reached the impressive milestone of 60% completion, with an anticipated finish by fall of this year. Getting to see a project from beginning to end is hugely rewarding for us, and we can’t wait to see the benefits this project brings to wildlife populations, especially to local mule deer herds.

Now, let’s delve into the backstory of this significant endeavor:

In 2014, during public meetings of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) Mule Deer Initiative, concerns regarding the Powder River Mule Deer Herd’s population were voiced. The population had fallen below the objective of 18,000 animals since the early 2000s.

Hunters also noticed a decline in mule deer numbers, resulting in diminished hunting opportunities. Factors such as disease, habitat loss, and highway and transportation infrastructure contributed to this decline. 

A specific section of I-25 near Kaycee (mileposts 255-270) was identified as having the second-highest rate of deer collisions on a Wyoming interstate, impeding the safe movement of mule deer seeking additional habitat. This project emerged as a Top 10 Statewide highway crossing priority during the Wyoming Wildlife and Roadways Summit in 2017.

Map highlighting (in pink) the section of highway where the crossing is being constructed.

Statewide, over 6,000 animals, including deer, pronghorn, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats, succumb to wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVCs) each year. The I-25 Kaycee to Buffalo Wildlife Crossing Project aims to mitigate these collisions by facilitating safe passage for wildlife and reducing overall WVC numbers. The project employs exclusionary fencing to guide wildlife to six existing crossing structures, including underpasses, bridges, and culverts. Additionally, deer ramps, gates, and cattle guards are being installed as needed.

The project entails constructing 36 miles of fencing (18 miles on each side of the interstate), requiring 10,000 wooden posts. An intriguing fact—168,000 hog rings, installed by hand, are needed to attach fencing material to the wooden posts. Jumpouts, like the one seen below within the project, are gradual ramps which help wildlife escape the highway corridor should they somehow become trapped.

The new fencing directs animals to crossing structures, ensuring safe passage for wildlife and enhancing the safety of interstate travelers. Wyoming currently witnesses 21 big-game collisions daily, with eight involving significant vehicle damage and/or human injury. WVCs cost the state approximately $55 million annually. This project aims to reduce these numbers, safeguarding wildlife, humans, and the state’s budget.

The Fund has diligently monitored existing underpasses with trail cameras since the project’s initiation, capturing numerous mule deer and other charismatic species utilizing them for safe passage across the interstate.

This impactful project owes its existence to the generous support of our sponsors. We extend heartfelt gratitude to the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, Golf For Wildlife Outing Supporters, Knobloch Family Foundation, Muley Fanatic Foundation, Williams Energy, Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, Wyoming Department of Transportation and Commission, and Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Commission for making this endeavor possible. 

Pooled Migration Fund: Request for Proposals

Request for Proposals

Projects to support State of WY-USDA Big Game Program


Due Date: Proposals due February 16th, 2024, 4PM MST

Timeline: Funding announcements in March 2024 with support over 2 years (2024 and 2025)

Anticipated Award Amounts: $50,000-$100,000

Anticipated Projects Funded: 4-7 

The WYldlife Fund (The Fund) unites people to advance Wyoming wildlife habitat, research, and education. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (Department) conserves wildlife and serves people. As a nonprofit partner of the Department, The Fund builds strategic partnerships to drive resources to the ground throughout Wyoming in order to advance Wyoming’s wildlife in alignment with the strategic vision of the Department.

The State of Wyoming has demonstrated itself as a leader in both the science and conservation actions related to big game migration for many years. The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission has directed the Department to prioritize conservation actions in big game migratory habitat for many years. Partnerships are critical to achieving these goals because they expand the personnel capacity and relationship network to deliver projects that benefit migratory big game.

In October 2022, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon signed an agreement that uses diverse Farm Bill programs and state expertise and resources to support voluntary conservation of private working lands and migratory big game populations in Wyoming. The Fund seeks proposals from NGO’s, State Agencies, County Conservation Districts, Tribal Partners, weed and pest districts, land trusts, etc. to expand the impact of the Wyoming-USDA Big Game Partnership to additional/new landowners or increase the footprint of conservation work on landowners with existing USDA Farm Bill Contracts.

Executive Summary

Seeking proposals to fund wildlife projects which include: vegetation enhancements, conifer removal, invasive annual grass treatments, wildlife friendly fence modifications, wildlife crossings, and any other project that improves connectivity and habitat quality for migratory big game. Capacity building projects such as mapping cheatgrass or inventorying fence modifications will be considered if the proposal also includes implementation of the conservation action as a component of the funding request.  

Geographic Priority Areas

USDA and Wyoming have identified several initial priority areas for their partnership. Proposals that focus on, or encompass, these priority areas will be ranked most highly. Consideration will be given to projects that occur within the herd unit(s) but do not overlap existing corridors(see attached map).  These Include:

  • Platte Valley, Baggs, and Sublette mule deer migration corridors
  • Absaroka Front Winter Range Complex
  • Wind River Reservation

Ranking Criteria

  • Focus on developing projects that utilize a combination of partnerships including USDA Farm Bill funds within geographic priority areas
  • Matching funds provided by applicant
  • Established relationships with landowners and/or Tribes
  • Evidence of collaboration with other partners (e.g. Wyoming Game and Fish Department, USFWS-with special focus on work to be completed on Wind River Reservation, Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, etc.)
  • Ecological impact and wildlife benefits of the conservation practice
  • Projects ready for immediate implementation

Additional Requirements

  • Annual progress and final report which includes a shapefile of the completed project – first report due March 31st, 2025

If you are interested in applying for funds please reach out to Chris McBarnes with The Fund to receive the full application, or (307)316-3863. Proposals will be reviewed by a grants advisory panel of Department, Tribal, Federal, Private Landowner and Fund representation. Proposals will be reviewed by the grants advisory panel and recommendations for funding will be sent to the full Fund Board for consideration and any additional questions. Please email your completed application to Chris McBarnes at by 4pm MST on February 16th.





2023 Microgrant Recipients

The WYldlife Fund recognizes that not every important project in Wyoming requires a check for hundreds of thousands of dollars. In this light, we also seek to fund smaller yet impactful projects and initiatives for the good of Wyoming’s wildlife. 

Every year, The WYldlife Fund awards microgrants to 501(c)3 organizations working to advance Wyoming’s wildlife, as well as to the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, our partners in numerous wildlife conservation projects. Our Microgrants Program awards up to $2,500 to specific projects. To apply for a grant, organizations in need must submit an application describing the project and its funding needs and budget, the perceived outcomes of the project, the project’s timeline, and a list of other partners. All applications are reviewed by our Microgrants Committee and then recommended to the full Board of Directors for final approval.

In 2023, we funded nine incredible projects. We’re so proud of the work these organizations are doing all throughout the state. Read on to learn more about these projects; perhaps you’ve heard of a few of them yourself!

Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation – Bear Wise JH

Photo courtesy of JHWF.

The Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation has a program called Bear Wise JH, which is an education and outreach campaign in Teton County, WY that aims to reduce bear conflicts and promote safety in bear country. Every year, they offer charging bear demonstrations, which closely simulate what it is like to be charged by an aggressive or defensive bear. Participants even get to practice using (empty!) bear spray canisters. Given bear spray’s efficacy at reducing bear conflicts (over 90% effective!) and Teton County’s proximity to bear country, these demonstrations are crucial to all residents and visitors of the area. In 2022, the Bear Wise JH program reached over 5,000 people, and an additional charging bear demonstration has the potential to reach even more people. Last year, the WYldlife Fund was thrilled to present JHWF with a $2,500 microgrant for the construction of a second demonstration, which allowed for the expansion of the popular Bear Wise JH program.

Wyoming Game & Fish Department

Photo courtesy of WGFD.

We awarded numerous microgrants to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD). First, we awarded $2,100 to fund a study on the effects of expandable GPS collars on pronghorn fawns. In particular, researchers are evaluating collared fawns for signs of increased stress levels compared to uncollared fawns. This is done by measuring cortisol levels in collected feces, and given the number of fecal samples, this is an expensive analysis that requires external funding. GPS collars are a common tool used to study population dynamics, land usage, preferred habitat, migration patterns, and more in wildlife populations. The results of this research will be used to inform wildlife biologists and managers conducting research on free-ranging pronghorn, improving our understanding of the species and being better-equipped to manage and conserve their population throughout the state.

Second, we awarded $2,500 to fund WGFD’s Wyoming Women’s Outdoor Series, a once-a-month series of outdoor-focused learning events for up to 25 women in the Laramie area, from January to May. Women learned how to ice fish, clean a rifle, and process food (preparing game meat, canning), as well as learned the basics of OnX Maps and Wilderness First Aid. This was a pilot program that ideally can be brought to other cities in Wyoming. The WYldlife Fund was excited to award this grant and help more women build important outdoor skills.

Photo courtesy of WGFD.

Finally, we awarded $2,500 to WGFD’s Whiskey Mountain Conservation Camp in Dubois, WY. This camp hosts eight summer sessions that educate participants about Wyoming’s wildlife and the conservation work being done throughout the state, and that engage participants in outdoor recreation, specifically hunting and fishing. The camp includes five family-focused sessions, two youth sessions, and one session for educators from across Wyoming. In 2022, the camp reached 122 people and has the capacity to grow. We were eager to award funding to the camp to promote to a wider audience and provide high-quality branded swag to participants to raise the camp’s profile throughout the state.

Laramie County 4H Shooting Sports Program

Photo by The WYldlife Fund.

The Laramie County 4H Shooting Sports Program (LCSS) is a partner of The WYldlife Fund and Little Jennie Ranch during our Inspire a Kid (IAK) Camps. Through their Archery Program, LCSS provides top-notch, hands-on archery instruction to all kids attending our IAK camps. Additionally, LCSS offers this same instruction to youth within Laramie County. We were eager to provide $2,500 to LCSS to purchase additional archery equipment to further expand this program.

Cheyenne Volunteers

Lions Park, in Cheyenne, WY, is home to Sloan’s Lake, a 29-acre, 13-foot deep lake that serves as a raw water irrigation source for the City of Cheyenne. It also serves as a spot for recreational activities, including fishing. The lake is stocked with a warm-water fish population and is managed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Unfortunately, the lake lacks underwater structures where fish can spawn and aggregate. Local volunteers want to change this by constructing fish accumulating structures, predominantly for black crappie, sunfish, and largemouth bass, using microgrant funding. The WYldlife Fund was pleased to award $1,000 to these volunteers for project implementation–supported by WGFD and the Board of Public Utilities–the necessary funds to move forward with this project.

Wyoming Game Wardens Association

Photo courtesy of the Easterly Family.

The Wyoming Game Wardens Association (WGWA) believes strongly in investing in the youth of Wyoming. In memory of Tom Easterly, a Greybull wildlife biologist who passed away suddenly in 2014, WGWA created a memorial fund which donates lifetime small game and game bird licenses to youth. To increase the available funds, WGWA requested a microgrant of $2,500, and we were proud to contribute to the continuation of the legacy of hunting in Wyoming.

Wyoming Wetlands Society

The Wyoming Wetlands Society (WWS) has been relocating beavers since 2004, live-trapping the animals causing property damage and releasing them in areas where they can restore wetlands away from human conflict. As part of this process, beavers are outfitted with a Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tag, which is a minimally invasive tag that is inserted beneath the animal’s skin. Beavers tagged in this way can be identified without recapture, as the tags are read by in-stream PIT tag readers as the animals swim by. WWS requested funding to invest in the necessary equipment to read PIT tags. The WYldlife Fund recognizes the importance this project has to understanding beaver dispersal and habitat restoration, and we were excited to award $2,500 in funding to WWS.

First Hunt Foundation

First Hunt Foundation – WY (FHF-WY) provides programming and mentorship opportunities that emphasize learning lifelong skills as a means to obtain sustainable food sources and self-sufficiency, as well as understand and promote conservation. As FHF-WY continues to grow, there is an increased equipment need for use by participants. Specifically, FHF-WY has seen a growing demand for archery programs. The WYldlife Fund was thrilled to present FHF-WY with $2,500 for the purchase of necessary archery equipment to ensure that there is enough gear for every program participant, furthering FHF-WY’s mission and teachings.


Are you seeking funding for a project that furthers the conservation of Wyoming’s wildlife? Do you know of an organization that could benefit from our microgrants? We are currently accepting applications! Microgrants are administered on a rolling cycle each calendar year. Applications are accepted and evaluated on a first-come, first-served basis until funds available for the calendar year are gone. Head to the link below for more information on how to apply! We can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2024 projects, and we are deeply grateful to all our supporters for making this work possible.

Click here to learn more about the 2024 application process!

Inspire a Kid Camps 2023

Wow, it has been a busy year for The WYldlife Fund! Busy is good, right? We like to think so! We have a lot to catch our supporters up on, and we’d like to begin by filling you in on our second summer of Inspire a Kid Camp, which was, in short, INCREDIBLE.

The WYldlife Fund was honored to partner with Little Jennie Ranch in Bondurant, WY to offer another summer session of Inspire a Kid Camp. We first offered this camp to a group of 20 boys in 2022, and this year we expanded to offer a girls camp as well!

From June 19th-24th, 20 boys from Wyoming, West Virginia, and New Jersey gathered at Little Jennie Ranch for a week of learning and outdoor recreation. From June 26th-July 1st, 15 girls from Wyoming, California, and New Jersey did the same. We partner with Chestnut Mountain Ranch in West Virginia, the First Tee Foundation in California, and St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in New Jersey to bring these groups of campers to Wyoming. Our in-state campers are often connected to the program through their school guidance counselors. Additionally, we work with the Wind River Indian Reservation to recruit campers as well.

To apply for IAK, prospective campers must address essay questions such as, Why is Wyoming’s wildlife important to you?, What does being a “good leader” mean to you?, and How do you hope to impact your community in the future?, among others. As we read through applications, we try to select campers who show potential to excel beyond camp with the seeds of leadership and wildlife conservation planted during camp.

The goal of Inspire a Kid Camp is to inspire the next generation of conservationists through exposure to outdoor activities such as horseback riding, fly fishing, hiking, and archery; cutting edge wildlife conservation practices; and education on everything from Native American history, identification of flora and fauna, the operation of a working cattle ranch, and Wyoming’s historic ungulate migrations. “We hope to create a lasting legacy of conservation and respect for the natural world around us by passing this experience and lessons onto future generations,” said The WYldlife Fund President, Chris McBarnes.

The idea for Inspire a Kid Camp was born from the Hamlin Family, owners of Little Jennie Ranch, in 2020. The Hamlins desired to do something at the ranch for youth, so a partnership with The WYldlife Fund was established. Working closely with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD), a curriculum was designed and the camp was born, its name coined after WGFD Director Brian Nesvik’s initiative, Inspire a Kid.

“IAK Camp 2023 was a huge success again at the ranch,” said Faith Hamlin of Little Jennie Ranch. “Not only do we get to see the students grow throughout the week, but each and every person involved is touched by this important work. Adding the girls camp has only gotten us more excited for the future of IAK Camps. We are already preparing for the best year of camps yet in 2024.”

The curriculum was created in partnership with the Wyoming Migration Initiative and multiple retired biologists from WGFD and the U.S. Forest Service, ensuring campers learned the most relevant information and the latest in conservation research.

Inspire a Kid Camp is incredibly unique in that it brings together three separate entities–a private producer (Little Jennie Ranch and the Hamlin Family), a nonprofit (The WYldlife Fund), and a government organization (WGFD). What’s more, the camp hosts an impressive array of nightly speakers for fireside chats, with the conversation focusing on leadership development. This year, speakers included WGFD Director Brian Nesvik; Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon; Dan Starks, Founder of the National Military Museum; Wyoming Game and Fish Commissioner Ashlee Lundvall; Mike Schmid, former Wyoming Game and Fish Commissioner and CEO of SOS Well Services; John Turner, former Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Services; and Rhiannon Jakopak, research scientist at the Montieth Shop. That’s quite a roster!

It’s difficult not to overstate the immense value the campers receive from their week at Inspire a Kid Camp. Instead, we’ll let them share a bit about what the camp meant to them:

“Going to Inspire a Kid Camp has to be the highlight of my year. I was given the opportunity to meet so many intriguing people and pick their brains about all sorts of things. Doing all of the activities like horseback riding, archery, fly fishing, and more was incredible, especially because it was the first time I did pretty much any of those activities…I am extremely thankful for everyone I met and for giving me this opportunity…It was truly the best part of my year.”

-Jonathan Martinez, camper

“I have learned so much about myself and who I want to become…You have made me find my newfound peace, my independence, and a lifetime of friendships…This camp has meant so much to me that I hope every little girl or boy feels the love that I felt when I was there.”

-Kayla Palmer, camper

“As a girl who has lived in the suburbs near New York City all her life, this camp gave me the chance to explore some things I would never have thought about before. The team who made this camp possible were able to get some amazing and intelligent speakers to come and share part of their knowledge and experience with us. Although they did talk about so many different topics, they all had one thing in common: they loved nature and wildlife…I will be forever grateful for those who came and chose to spend their time with us. It truly opened my eyes to new topics and gave me a new understanding of what wildlife is and how humans interact with these animals.”

-Arielle Lopina, camper

“The camp was adventurous and I loved making friends. The activities were fun and the setting is absolutely ‘take your breath away’ beautiful!”

-Hadley Finn, camper

“The Inspire a Kid Camps create memories and relationships that go the distance. They create opportunities that our kids have never had before, and create leadership skills and work ethic. The Inspire a Kid Camps put smiles on faces and create positive memories in a life full of tragedy.”

-Bradley Clodfelter, camp volunteer from Chestnut Mountain Ranch

It’s clear that this camp is hugely influential to the youth who attend it, and The WYldlife Fund is honored to be able to offer it. We are thrilled to be a part of inspiring the next generation, and we hope to continue this camp for years to come. This would not be possible without the partnership between Little Jennie Ranch and the Hamlin Family, WGFD, and our numerous other partners–LJR Staff, Commissioner Ashlee Lundvall, Sporting Lead Free, First Hunt Foundation, Wyoming State 4H, and Chad and Samantha Haley. We are already looking forward to next summer! We encourage interested individuals to keep an eye out for the application process during the first quarter of 2024.

In the future, we hope to work with more private ranchers to spread these opportunities across the state of Wyoming. There is so much room to grow!

Want to get a closer look at Inspire a Kid Camp? Check out the below video from this summer’s boys session!

Inspire a Kid Camps are made possible in part through the generous donations from supporters like you. In the spirit of giving this holiday season, we hope you will consider making a donation to TWF to support the continued offerings of these life-changing camps. You can donate using the link at the top of this page. Thank you for your unwavering support! We can’t wait for next year!

All photos are courtesy of Della Frederickson.

WYDOT receives $24.3 million federal grant for Kemmerer wildlife crossing project

We have some exciting news to share in the world of wildlife crossings! But first, a bit of background:

According to Dr. Corinna Riginos of The Nature Conservancy, the annual number of wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVCs) continues to rise over time, with a current five-year average of 7,656 animals per year. The vast majority of these collisions (approx. 5,500) involve mule deer, whose numbers are already in decline. There are currently 21 big-game collisions every day in Wyoming, eight of which involve significant damage to vehicles and/or human injury. The total cost of WVCs in Wyoming average about $55 million per year. These numbers have doubled over the last 15 years, and we can expect them to double again by 2035 if we don’t address the problem. Further, the actual number of collisions and dead animals is likely twice the number that gets counted, due to undetected mortalities away from the roadside.

Since The WYldlife Fund’s inception in 2020, we have made it a top priority to help fund wildlife crossing projects and ensure the safety and survival of wildlife populations most negatively affected by roads. The first large-scale project we helped fully fund was the I-25 Buffalo-to-Kaycee Wildlife Crossing Project. Currently, this project is 90% complete and includes close to 20 miles of big game exclusionary fencing to direct wildlife–mainly mule deer–to existing underpasses.

Earlier this year, The WYldlife Fund began work to raise and pool private funds to support another wildlife crossing project: the HWY-189 South Kemmerer Wildlife Crossing Project.

There is a particular 30-mile stretch along Highway 189 in southwest Wyoming that has seen significant WVCs with pronghorn and mule deer, according to the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT). These collisions are causing population-level impacts to pronghorn and are disrupting migratory and winter-range movements of mule deer from the Uinta and Wyoming Range Mule Deer Herds. These herds were severely impacted during the harsh 2022-‘23 winter, with biologists reporting upwards of 70% mortality.

This wildlife crossing project would reduce WVCs and promote habitat connectivity for ungulates by directing animals to existing and new wildlife crossing structures. It will also ensure humans can more safely travel this highway, as WVCs are very injurious not only to wildlife, and it will create a plethora of jobs for Wyoming’s workforce. The project is a huge undertaking: to complete it, existing fences will be replaced and five underpasses and one overpass will be constructed. A similar 13-mile-long wildlife crossing project in nearby Nugget Canyon reduced WVCs by 81% while allowing 49,146 mule deer to safely cross the highway during a three-year period, according to Hall Sawyer, Research Biologist at West Inc. We hope to see similar statistics for the Kemmerer project.

Understandably, a project of this magnitude requires an extensive budget. Together, WYDOT and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department applied for a federal grant through the Wildlife Crossing Pilot Program, which is funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The WYldlife Fund helped raise close to $1 million to bolster the federal grant request, which was crucial given the highly competitive nature of the grant process. We also helped garner over 20 support letters for the grant application itself.

The partners who came together through The WYldlife Fund to donate this money are Genesis Alkali Wyoming, the Knobloch Family Foundation, the Mule Deer Foundation, the Muley Fanatic Foundation Blue Ridge Chapter, the Muley Fanatic Foundation Headquarters, the NextEra Energy Foundation, Project West, the Rocky Mountain Power Foundation, SOS Well Services, the supporters of the annual Golf for Wildlife Outing, Spire Storage, TerraPower, The WYldlife Fund, the Wildlife Barrier Breakers Coalition, Williams Energy, and the Wyoming Wildlife Federation. We are beyond grateful for their invaluable support. 

Now, for the exciting news we mentioned:

The Federal Highway Administration Award is part of $350 million available through the federal wildlife crossing pilot program. Approximately $112 million was allocated during this first round of awards, with WYDOT receiving more than 20 percent of the available funding for the Kemmerer project–$24.3 million, to be exact!

What’s more, the Wyoming Transportation Commission, Game and Fish Commission, Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, and partners contributed the remaining $8.8 million (which includes private donations to The WYldlife Fund), making the project fully funded!

“I am thankful and excited to have had the opportunity to work with WYDOT, Game and Fish, industry, foundations, and nonprofit organizations to secure this incredibly important funding source to conserve Wyoming’s iconic wildlife,” said Chris McBarnes, President of The WYldlife Fund. “Wyoming is showing the power of public-private partnerships which will continue to produce positive results for wildlife and advance the overall prosperity of our state.”

It has been a very exciting week for all of us, and we are thrilled to be able to share this news with you. Another win for wildlife!

Head here to read the full press release from the Governor’s Office, Game and Fish, and WYDOT!


The WYld Showdown Has Launched

The WYldlife Fund, Wyoming Craft Brewers Guild, and University of Wyoming’s Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources Team Up For WYld Showdown

Beer Coaster Game Aims to Raise Money for Wildlife Conservation

With the launch of the WYLD Showdown, consumers in breweries across Wyoming can participate in a bracket-style competition via a QR code found on beer coasters to raise awareness and funds that support wildlife conservation. Consumers will vote on their favorite wild animal by making small donations to participate. The WYLD Showdown is a partnership among The WYldlife Fund’s signature initiative WYldlife for Tomorrow, the Wyoming Craft Brewers Guild, and the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming. Through this initiative, The WYldlife Fund aims to create new ways to help all people take an active part in conservation funding.

“As a home for all people, The WYldlife Fund is proud to partner with The Craft Brewers Guild and the Haub School to showcase the commitment that Wyoming breweries have to the state’s wildlife resources” says Nate Brown, Operations Manager of The WYldlife Fund. “Great beer, made by great people, in great places across our state!”

Through the support of the Wyoming Craft Brewers Guild, these coasters will be available at breweries across Wyoming, giving those who enjoy the great beer that Wyoming breweries produce the opportunity to support wildlife conservation while enjoying their favorite beverages and supporting local businesses.

“Engaging in this program is a great chance for Wyoming breweries to showcase their commitment to their communities and wildlife conservation,” said Michelle Forster, Executive Director of the Wyoming Craft Brewers Guild. “We’re excited to see Wyomingites show their love for craft beer and wildlife all at once.”

By choosing their champion through these donations, consumers across the state can make a collective impact on wildlife conservation by helping fund on-the-ground projects. The idea for the WYLD Showdown came from Haub School graduate student Tyler Shreve’s thesis project that examines strategies to promote charitable giving in support of Wyoming conservation projects. College of Business economists, Todd Cherry and Alex James, were also instrumental in the project design.

Inna Willis, a former graphic design student at the University of Wyoming, designed the coasters for the WYld Showdown. As stated by Inna Willis, who is now working alongside Haub School graphic design and economics faculty Kayla Clark and Jacob Hochard in support of the initiative, “Anyone can support wildlife conservation, one beer at a time!”.

The WYLD Showdown coasters are now out at breweries across the state. The competition will last for several months. The WYldlife Fund’s signature initiative, WYldlife For Tomorrow is moving the needle for Wyoming’s wildlife conservation. Wyoming’s wildlife has suffered greatly due to several factors including habitat encroachment, invasive species, wildlife vehicle collisions, and most recently, the worst winter in modern history.

NextEra Energy Resources Invests in Wyoming Migration Corridors

NextEra Energy Resources Commits $50,000 to The WYldlife Fund in Support of Big Game Migration Corridors


The WYldlife Fund is proud to announce a $50,000 contribution to the Pooled Migration Fund from the NextEra Energy Foundation, the charitable arm of NextEra Energy Resources, to focus on implementing wildlife-friendly projects. The Pooled Migration Fund is dedicated to supporting the United States Department of Agriculture and State of Wyoming’s Big Game Pilot, which aims to conserve big game populations that migrate across working lands in Wyoming via three strategies: land conservation, habitat restoration and long-term private-lands stewardship.


“The WYldlife Fund is grateful for the support from NextEra Energy Resources as it enables us to make significant strides in preserving Wyoming’s exceptional big game species and their migratory corridors,” said WYldlife Fund president Chris McBarnes. “This generous contribution will help us implement projects that will have a lasting positive impact on Wyoming’s wildlife and their ecosystems.”


The Pooled Migration Fund, administered by The WYldlife Fund, is intended to bolster voluntary conservation of private working lands within migration corridors for big game populations in Wyoming. The Pooled Migration Fund supports stewardship of private lands within the recently state-designated Platte Valley, Baggs, and Sublette mule deer migration corridors, as well as multispecies seasonal ranges in the Shoshone River Valleys (i.e. Cody area).


The generous contribution from NextEra Energy Resources will support crucial on-the-ground wildlife projects within these important geographies. These initiatives will play a pivotal role in safeguarding the migratory routes and habitats of the state’s diverse wildlife, ensuring that these invaluable species continue to thrive in their natural environments.


“At NextEra Energy Resources, we are committed to conservation and stewardship of wildlife and their habitats in the states we call home,” said Matt Raffenberg, vice president of environmental services for NextEra Energy Resources. “We are proud to support the Pooled Migration Fund, which aligns with our mission as an industry leader in renewable energy to support sustainable practices and find real-world solutions to address large-scale conservation challenges.”


This donation marks a significant step toward securing a thriving future for Wyoming’s diverse wildlife and their migratory corridors. By working with The WYldlife Fund and supporting habitat improvements, NextEra Energy Resources is helping to ensure that these majestic creatures continue to roam their natural landscapes freely.