Keep wildlife safe in your backyard
Have you considered that fencing can be very damaging and even lethal to wildlife? Not only do animals get caught and trapped in fencing, but large fencing installations may disrupt wildlife paths and historical migration routes. Fencing can create a complete barrier to ungulates, with fawns and calves unable to cross, they become stranded and separated from the herd and may die from predators or starvation. Birds can also collide, break wings, and become impaled by barbs.
Fencing that causes problems for wildlife:
- Too high to jump
- Too low to crawl under
- Have loose wires
- Have loose wires spaced closely together
- Difficult for fleeing animals to see
- Complete a complete barrier
If you need some privacy, or ways to contain pets, kids or livestock, please consider these wildlife friendly approaches.
The ideal fence for wildlife is:
- Highly visible
- Allows wildlife to jump over or crawl under easily
- Allows access to habitat and travel corridors
This short-eared owl chick survived his injuries but was not releasable. "Galileo" is now an ambassador to teach the public about wildlife friendly fencing at HawkWatch International. Photo by On the Wing Photography.
Deer caught in fencing.
Deer unable to pass off Century Drive in Bend.
- Smooth wire on top and bottom
- Top wire is no higher than 42"
- 12" between top two wires
- 16" between bottom wire and ground
- Fence posts at 16' intervals
- Gates or drop down sections to allow passage
- High visibility wires, or flags/markers to increase visibility
For your Yard, consider...
- A "Living Fence" for privacy
Using plants or trees as fences creates a visual barrier
Learn more at
- Living Fences: 11 Boundary setting solutions (Bob Villa)
- The Best Trees and Shrubs for a Privacy Fence (Neave)
- "Invisible Fencing" (hidden fencing) for pets
Enjoy your yard fully and keep pets safe
- A smaller footprint of fencing
Leaving open portions of your yard as a buffer and for wildlife to pass through.
- Or... No fencing at all.
Do you really need it?
- Electric fencing (especially bird friendly)
- Split rail fencing
- Barbed wire fencing techniques that reduce harm on wildlife but keep livestock contained. Learn more at Wildlife friendly fence design (PDF) from Montana DOT
- Learn Oregon friendly fence specifications here
- Read comprehensive Landowner's Guide to Wildlife Friendly Fencing (Montana)
Luckily this barn owl was able to be rescued, rehabilitated and released - but most are not so lucky. Photo by On the Wing Photography.
Many struggle there until they die. Injuries are usually so severe that euthanasia is the only alternative.
The Deschutes County Juvenile Community Justice will remove nonfunctional barbed wire that has fallen to the ground, has been partially buried or is no longer used to fence in livestock at no cost. The barbed wire is taken down and removed for recycling in a timely manner, and the posts are left in place to mark property boundaries. Since this program started, over 60 tons of barbed wire has been removed and recycled.
For more information, contact:
Deschutes County Juvenile Community Justice