When most people talk about fences and wildlife, they’re usually talking about how to keep the wildlife away. After all, wild animals can be a real nuisance for any farmer or homesteader. They bother your animals, eat your plants, and sometimes do real damage to your fence.
But have you ever considered that your fence might do real damage to the animals?
If you live somewhere with a lot of wildlife, those animals are bound to encounter your fence sooner or later. Too often, animals find themselves trapped or seriously injured by farm fencing — and sometimes, those injuries can be fatal.
You probably don’t want to harm the local wildlife on your land. But you also need to prevent your animals from roaming off your property. Luckily, there is a solution that can benefit both you and the critters in your backyard: wildlife-friendly fencing.
Wildlife-friendly fencing considers the needs of the animals around you and allows them to escape a fenced area easily. This fencing type still manages to maintain livestock and other animals, but it doesn’t fully prevent wildlife from passing through. Using wildlife-friendly fencing on your property is a great way to protect your animals while also respecting the critters, deer, and other wildlife in your area.
Ideal Fencing for Wildlife
What makes a fence “wildlife-friendly”? There are a few key characteristics to consider when you’re building a wildlife-friendly fence: height, material, and visibility. Let’s take a closer look at each of these elements and see how they can make a fence safe for wildlife.
Fence Height and Spacing
One of the biggest problems facing wild animals is fencing that is too high to jump. While humans may see something too tall as a deterrent, animals may attempt the jump anyway — and that can lead to serious problems. In fact, research on wildlife mortality has discovered that about 70% of all wildlife deaths were due to fencing that was taller than 42 inches.
Similarly, many animals are injured when they try to escape a fence by crawling under it. This can cause serious harm to the animal, particularly if the fence they escaped uses barbed wires. Even if the animal makes it out unscathed, the time spent escaping can cause an animal to become separated from its herd, significantly hurting its chances of survival.
How can wildlife-friendly fencing prevent these problems? Firstly, avoid installing fences that are higher than 42 inches. This will help prevent injuries when animals try to jump over. Secondly, make sure that the bottom line of your fence sits at least 16 inches above the ground. This gives critters and even larger animals like fawns plenty of space to squeeze out and escape the fenced area. To prevent entanglement, spacing between the vertical wires should be 16 inches to allow a deer or elk to easily free itself from harm.
When you are building a fence, you often put a lot of thought into the material you’ll need. Do you want an electric fence? Woven wire? Maybe barbs? Each of these options has its pros and cons, and ultimately your decision depends on the animals you are fencing in. But if you want to build a wildlife-friendly fence, you also have to consider the animals you’re keeping out. And in that situation, smooth wire fencing is really the only option.
Does this mean you can never use barbed wire again? No. Barbed wire is an effective type of fencing for cattle, so many farmers will still use it on their enclosures. However, even barbed wire fences can become wildlife-friendly. Simply place smooth wires at the top and bottom of your fence, and use flags or vinyl markers to increase visibility on the barbed areas.
As we just mentioned, visibility is very important when you make a fence wildlife-friendly. When a fence is difficult to see, there is a much greater risk of animals getting caught in the wires. Fawns, critters, and even low-flying birds can wind up trapped in your fence, which can be frightening for the animal, you, and your livestock.
Luckily, it is pretty easy to make a fence more visible. You can place a high visibility wire or sight board at the top of the fence or use flags and other visibility markers along the fence line. Visibility markers can also be useful for helping animals find access points like gates or wires they can crawl under, which means the animals can get out of your enclosure more easily.
Why Do I Need Wildlife-Friendly Fencing?
You might be wondering why you need a wildlife-friendly fence. After all, isn’t the point of fencing to keep wild animals out? Well, every homesteader or farmer knows that wild animals aren’t always deterred by our attempts to keep them out. While it is true that your fence should prevent animals from getting onto your property, wildlife-friendly fencing allows those animals the freedom to safely escape if they do get in.
As a farmer or homesteader, you have a responsibility to protect your livestock and keep them on your property. But as a landowner, you also have a responsibility to respect the wildlife around you and recognize that your land is also their home. Wildlife-friendly fencing allows you to do both these things, creating a safer experience for any animals that come across your property.
Of course, if you’re going to build a wildlife-friendly fence, you’re going to need quality materials. Red Brand is proud to offer the best wire fencing, installation tools, and everything else you might need for your fencing project. Use our Dealer and Installer Locators and see how we can help you create a wildlife-friendly fence that’s built to last.