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"I BELIEVE in connected landscapes; so connected that my children can walk from one point to another."
Chris Bunting, Y2Y Supporter since 2007

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Permeable Fences

Ten steps to making your own wildlife-friendly fence.

Permeable fences? It sounds like an oxymoron but the creative people at Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation (JHWF), one of Y2Y’s partner grant recipients, have found a simple fencing solution that is somewhat more permeable or wildlife-friendlier than your regular fence.

Of course no fence is 100% permeable, but this innovation is the next best thing. It both keeps livestock in and gives wildlife the freedom they need to roam, while reducing the hazards and obstacles wildlife often encounter with standard fences.

This April we had the chance to not only see some of these wildlife-friendly fences for ourselves, but also, we enjoyed watching a herd of elk make their way over the modified fence with ease. We were so inspired we wanted to share what we learned with you.

Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation volunteer show us how simple it is to lower the top wire, making it easier for wildlife to jump the fence. Photo: Renee Krysko.
Why Fences Matter

When animals attempt to jump fences, they can easily catch a leg becoming ensnared in the deadly strands of wire. These fences can become death traps for wildlife. Besides the possibility of entanglement, fences can also obstruct the movement of wildlife by blocking wildlife corridors. Their attempts to jump fences waste valuable energy and can affect their ability to survive during winter months. Young and elderly wildlife are particularly vulnerable in these situations.

Tracking Success

The simple and ‘somewhat’ permeable fences that JHWF has created are having a big impact on wildlife movement. Based on the images captured from JHWF’s trail cameras that are installed at modified fences, they estimate that 90 percent of wildlife that cross at a given location chose to walk over a modified fence with a lowered top wire.

With some 167 miles (269 km) of removed or modified fences currently in Teton County, JHWF is giving elk, deer and other animals the freedom to roam along their traditional migration routes with a reduced threat of being ensnared in barbed wire. JHWF will continue to track problem fences in the county and work with land-use agencies and private land owners to remove or alter fences to make it safer for wildlife.

JHWF has a variety of different style of wildlife-friendly fences to meet the needs of different animals. To create your own fence it is best to consult with them, but here is a preview of how easy erecting a wildlife-fence can be.

SIX SIMPLE STEPS TO CREATE YOUR WILDLIFE-FRIENDLY FENCE

Materials:

Safety glasses
2 Pair of heavy leather gloves
1 Supply cart
Smooth wire
Fence staples (4 / fence post)
Wire stretchers
10-16 willing volunteers

Step 1: Identify the fenced area you wish to modify.

 

Step 2: Using appropriate safety precautions and gear, remove old barbed wire.

Step 3: Hammer in 3 fence staples at 18", 30" and 42" on each fence post.

Step 4: Mount smooth wire, stretching it out across the fence posts with the wire stretchers.

Step 5: Secure wire by inserting the fence staple nail at the desired height placement.

Step 6: During peak wildlife migration, remove nail and lower the top wire to the 30” level. Secure wire by inserting fence staple nail.

Voila! You have a wildlife-friendly fence. Click here to learn more.

Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundations’ Wildlife-Fencing Program is only one of the 17 outstanding projects that Y2Y helped fund through our Partner Grants Program. Stay tuned for updates on the successes of the other 16 projects.

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