Choosing Fences With Wildlife Safety in Mind

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We often think of fences as just another part of the landscape. For animals, though, normal privacy fences can prove to be an unsafe, even deadly, barrier.

In Spokane, Washington and surrounding areas, many wildlife biologists are looking to find fencing that is as compatible with local wildlife as possible. There are many things that can go wrong when an animal confronts a fence. They can get snagged in some, like barbed wire fences. They might move around less spiky wooden fences and end up caught by a predator in the process. They might be turned away by vinyl fences, causing them to become malnourished when they can’t access areas of more plentiful water or food.

“We try to make wildlife compatible fences,” said Jason Lowe, a wildlife biologist working in Spokane. “In this region, most of the consideration is for deer and sage grouse.” When deciding on appropriate fencing, they try and take animal behavior into consideration. Mule deer, for example, like going under fences — for this reason, they try and make fences compatible for this type of movement.

In some places, fencing is encouraged because it can help steer animals away from conflicts with humans. High fences in certain areas of Washington help keep elk away from both humans and agricultural areas. Fences are also used to control roadside mortalities; a deer-proof fence along Highway 97A installed several years ago has significantly decreased the number of wildlife/vehicle collisions during the winter.

Many former homesteads have since been purchased by the state. After this happens, the state often comes in and removes barbed wire that could otherwise pose a risk to area wildlife.

If people are concerned about wildlife safety, what sort of fence designs should they be looking at? Barbed wire is definitely not an ideal choice unless one is trying to keep cattle in place. As far as determining what type of fencing is least detrimental, it depends on what, exactly, type of local wildlife is in the area. One of the most effective and safe solutions for bears, for example, is the electric fence.

A homeowner’s best bet is to consult with local area biologists or wildlife officials in order to determine the right fence styles that help protect their property, without negatively impacting the environment.

Do you keep animals in mind while setting up your own privacy fences? Let us know in the comments. Visit here for more information.

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