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Fencing Considerations

Wildlife Friendly Fencing

Wildlife Friendly Fencing

Our valleys are crisscrossed with vital fences, to protect crops, deter trespass while defining property boundaries and enclosing pastures. However, these fences may pose hazards for wildlife, hindering their movements and access to resources. Tailoring fence design can mitigate wildlife injuries and reduce damage, offering cost-effective solutions that may save money on future repairs.

Wire strands, especially when loose or closely spaced, can easily ensnare and injure animals, particularly in challenging conditions like deep snow or steep slopes. This can be especially difficult for young, pregnant, or winter-stressed animals, affecting their chances of survival. Wildlife, including deer and elk, often bear scars from wire barbs, leading to weakened ligaments, strained legs, infections, and potential fatalities. 

Certain fences, like page wire, can create complete barriers for fawns and calves, separating them from their mothers and the herd, resulting in exposure and dehydration. Page wire may also pose risks to medium-sized animals and livestock, snaring and strangling them. The addition of barbed wire exacerbates these issues, becoming a formidable barrier, particularly for fawns, calves, bighorn sheep, and other animals.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbours

What kinds of fences create problems for wildlife?

Problem fences are fences that:

  • are too high to jump and too low to crawl under

  • have loose or broken wires

  • have wires spaced too closely together

  • have spikes or barbs that may impale or snag a leaping animal

  • are difficult for running animals or birds to see

  • create a complete movement barrier through the landscape

Good Fences Make Good Neighbours

Wildilfe need to be able to move throughout the landscape. Having enough area to range allows them to find mates, move to safe birthing areas, and search for prey. It is important that as they are moving through their ranges that they are not at risk of injury or getting trapped by fences


Best practices for fencing include:

  • Smooth wire or rail for the top, smooth wire on bottom;

  • A top wire or rail preferably no higher than 1 m above the ground;

  • A bottom wire or rail at least 18” (46 cm) above the ground;

  • No vertical stays.

  • Posts at 5 metre intervals;

  • Installing one-way gates, drop-downs, or other passages where wild animals concentrate and cross ( can use game trails as a guide for where these would be best placed and used)

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Furter Reading Resources

Further Reading & Resources

BC Agricultural Fencing Handbook:

Alberta Conservation Association & MULTISAR Wildlife Friendly Fencing:

Wildlife Friendly Fences: Keeping wildlife in mind while constructing or altering fences can help minimize these conflicts, reducing property damage and time spent doing repairs and ensuring safe passage for wildlife.

Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment: Landowners Guide to Wildlife Friendly Fencing

Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Resource Library & Toolkit

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