May 24, 2010 12:06 PM by Elaine Sheridan

Make sure your new fence won't hurt the wildlife

Every year, thousands of big game animals and birds die of injuries caused by fences. However, as a new Colorado Division of Wildlife publication explains, it is possible to build effective fences that meet the needs of landowners and that minimize harm to wildlife.
The new publication, "Fencing with Wildlife in Mind," explains how to build a variety of wildlife-friendly fences. It also includes instructions on how to construct enclosures around areas to exclude wildlife. When properly built, fences can allow wildlife to move through an area, both in their normal daily movements and in seasonal migration patterns.
"Fences are major investments for landowners," said Pat Tucker, coordinator of the Habitat Partnership Program for the DOW. "This publication isn't the final word on fencing but it does show real life examples of fence designs that work for both landowners and wildlife."  
As summer approaches and fence-fixing time begins, landowners are asked to consider carefully what they need for fencing.


A research study of 600 miles of fence line conducted by Utah State University examined carcasses of animals found hanging in the fences, dead animals next to fences, and different types of fences.  


Woven-wire fences topped with a single-strand of barbed wire were most lethal to wildlife; young animals are eight times more likely to die in fences than adult animals.   90 percent of the carcasses found near fences were of young animals that had been separated from their mothers.

While not studied as part of the research project, wildlife officers observe that in urban and suburban areas animals often become hung-up and die on decorative and wrought-iron fences

"Many landowners provided us with their innovative designs for use in the publication," said Ken Morgan, private lands coordinator for the DOW. "Their suggestions help to show other landowners that these designs work in the real world. The effort of landowners to help Colorado's wildlife is very much appreciated." 
"Fencing with Wildlife in Mind" addresses these and numerous other issues. The publication can be found at the DOW web site, and can be downloaded for use.  A limited number of printed copies are also available at DOW offices.


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