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Photo: Howard Smith

Wildlife Friendly Fencing

Wildlife Friendly Fencing

Save wildlife from harm by ensuring your fencing is safe.

A fence that is friendlier to wildlife:

  • Allows animals to jump over and crawl under easily without injury or the fence ensures wildlife can’t be trapped within the confines or blocked from water and habitat.
  • It is highly visible for both ungulates and birds. It is maintained to avoid entangling and skewering wildlife.

Here is how.

These are links to helpful instructions and tips for maintaining and erecting safe fences:

“Building a wildlife-friendly fence is often a win-win solution for landowners and wildlife.”

Explains Simon Buzzard, a Wildlife Ecologist for the National Wildlife Federation.  He goes on to say  “A fence that allows passage for large mammals like pronghorn, deer, elk, and moose is less likely to get broken and battered as these animals seasonally traverse the matrix of private and public lands to find resources. A more permeable fence can save landowners money in the long run and help sustain populations of big game by aiding migrations. ” Read more in in his article Mapping Invisible Barriers: A Frontier in Conservation.

The Dangers


  • Although deer, elk, and moose are capable of jumping fences, in a variety of situations they become injured and entangled.
  • Wire strands can readily snag animals and tangle legs, especially if wires are loose or spaced too closely together.
  • Some fences can be a complete barrier to fawns and calves, separating them from their mothers and stranded from their herd.
  • Winter-stressed or pregnant animals may have difficulty clearing fences, especially if there is deep snow.
  • Birds are also susceptible to injury and death caused by fences. Large and low flying birds may collide with fences breaking wings, impaled on barbs, and tangled in wires.

Problems exist with fences that:

  • Are too high to safely jump
  • Are too low to crawl under
  • Have loose or broken wires
  • Have wires spaced too closely together
  • Can impale or snag a leaping animal
  • Are difficult for animals to see
  • Create a complete barrier to ecological connectivity (Learn more about connectivity with this Parks Canada video)

Tailor your fence to specific needs, and allow wildlife access to water, important habitat, and travel corridors.

Consider before you construct a fence:

  • Purpose of a fence
  • Topography
  • Presence of wildlife
  • Daily and seasonal movement of wildlife
  • Presence of water, food, and cover
  • Presence of young animals
  • Problem fencing spots

Some Remedies:

Just fence what is needed, and leave space for wildlife movement

Locate gates in corners of exclusion fences for escape route

Yard fences are not more than 4ft high.

Make the top of a fence highly visible. Add reflectors and flag for birds

Electric fences can deter predators

Decommission unused fences

Use signage instead of a fence


Create a legacy by placing a covenant on your land title that allows for a wildlife corridor beyond your time there. Consult your legal advisor for details on how this can work for you and our wildlife friends.


Thanks to the Creston Valley Community Foundation, the Creston Rod and Gun Club and the Flatbow Society that contributed to the 2024 wildlife friendly fencing awareness campaign.

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