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Fences — dangers of barbed wire fences to wildlife


The barking owl, above, had to be euthanased after its wing was snagged on the barbed wire fence (Wildlife Care NT).

The rescue prompted the animal welfare organisation to issue a plea to the public to consider the impact of barbed wire on local wildlife.

More than 75 different species of wildlife regularly become victim to barbed wire fences, rescuers say, with nocturnal animals like owls disproportionately affected.

Local Land Services have published a book: Rural living handbook, a guide for rural landholders and states the following:

Wildlife friendly fences

Fences are used not only for stock control, but also to protect vegetation and sensitive areas.

What can you do to make fences more wildlife friendly?

Some ways to make sure your fences benefit wildlife and stock include:

  • Use plain wires instead of ring lock or hinge joint.
  • Leave 30 cm between the top wire and the next one down. This is important to avoid kangaroos catching and trapping their legs between the two top wires.
  • If possible use white horse sighter wire on the top strand and white caps on steel posts, or treated pine posts.
  • Don’t use barbed wire as birds and gliders are often caught and killed on them. If existing fences have barbed wire, consider taking that wire out, particularly the top strand.
  • Keep fences at a moderate height, e.g. approximately 1.2 metres.
  • Keep the bottom wire 15 centimetres above the ground level.
  • Avoid permanent electric fencing. It can form a significant barrier to wildlife movement, and electrocute native animals on low-level live wires.
  • Structures such as wombat gates and pipe underpasses can help wildlife to pass without damaging fences. Check where wildlife is moving through before installing new fences.
  • See

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