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Wildlife friendly fencing

Before installation, start by assessing all your needs

Fences define property and confine livestock but they also limit where wildlife can find habitat. The right kind of fencing will serve both types of animals well. Unfortunately for wildlife, fences tend to restrict  their movement and access to habitat. The creatures can run into serious trouble when they try to cross.

Ken Morgan is a private lands coordinator with the Colorado Division of Wildlife. He says the most hazardous fence from a wildlife point of view is one that's in disrepair. "Barbed wire that has become unlatched from the fence post, curled up, and animals inadvertently get tripped up in them, it's just like a snare at that particular point, and they get fouled up," Morgan says. "Deer and elk and pronghorn often times can get their antlers tangled up in loose wire of that nature."

Woven-wire stock fence is detrimental to young wildlife that can't follow their mothers over the fence. The babies are left behind. Birds collide with wire fences they can't see, breaking wings and becoming entangled.

When deciding on a fence, consider what kind of wildlife are in your area. Morgan says the friendliest fences are visible, and allow wild animals to easily jump over or slip under them. He recommends a four-strand stock fence. "Our design includes a bottom smooth wire 16-inches from the ground, and then two strands of barbed wire above that, and then a smooth wire that would be 12-inches from the middle wire to the top wire, and then a high-visibility PVC covering at the top," says Morgan."So a smooth wire at the bottom, a smooth wire at the top, and a 42-inch maximum height for all four strands together."

Help wildlife go through seasonal migration by removing sections of the fence or dropping it down so they can travel undisturbed. They'll move along the length of the fence looking for an opening.

Radio interview source: Ken Morgan, Private Lands Coordinator, Colorado Division of Wildlife
Listen here: Wildlife friendly fencing

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