Fencing can cause all sorts of problems for wildlife. Gliding possums,bats and birds (particularly nocturnal birds like owls) get caught in barbed wire. Echidnas get electrocuted when they try to climb under an electric fence, while koalas can get caught when trying to climb a fence.
However, without a doubt, kangaroos are the most common victims of fencing in the Macedon Ranges.
Kangaroo 'fencehanging' occurs when a kangaroo attempts to jump a fence but misses the top. Instead its leg(s), pass between the top wire and the next one down. The body then flies forward over the top and as it falls towards the ground, the legs act like a stick in the wires, pulling the second wire over the top wire and trapping the leg(s) tight and acting like a tourniquet. If the fence is high or the roo is small the body may be suspended off the ground; if the roo is bigger or the fence is lower, the body may be partially on the ground. Either way the result is the same - no hope of escape without assistance. The animal dies slowly of capture myopathy (fear response) or dehydration, or is eaten alive by predators.
Here are some suggestions of things you can do to protect wildlife from becoming entangled in your fencing:
2) Allow wildlife to go UNDER the fence rather than having to go OVER the fence. This can be done by removing the bottom strands of a fence leaving a gap of approximately 30-50cm between the ground and the first strand of fence. If its not possible to do this for the full length of the fence, remove the bottom strands at least at the point where wildlife commonly crosses the fenceline. THis will particularly help the smaller animals and the young kangaroos
3) Remove top strands of wire to reduce the height of the fence, so that wildlife can more easily clear the fence. This also reduces the likelihood of entanglement
4) Remove barbed wire - this will protect gliding possums and birds particularly
5) Post and rail fencing is the most wildlife friendly fencing for all wildlife species as it is highly visible and animals can go UNDER the rails, and there is NO chance of entanglement
6) Single strand wire fences can be wildlife friendly IF the wires are visible (see point 1 above), and the top wire and the next one down are far enough apart and kept taut so that they cannot come together to capture a foot/leg
7) If you require more substantial fencing than strand fencing do not use open profile wires like deer wire and ringlock. These are the types of wire that a roo's leg can easily get entrapped in as described above. Instead use chicken wire or cyclone wire as the hole profile is too small for the leg of a roo to go through. Mark top of fence with white tape, and DO NOT add strand wire to top of fence.
8) Consider if you really require a fence, or if you could define your property border and enhance your privacy using vegetation
9) Create 'gateways' in your fencing at the place where the wildlife generally cross the fenceline. This can be done by either:
- Removing the fence entirely at the crossing point, or
- Cutting the fence down to a very low level at this point, for a minimum width of about 1 metre
In cases where this has been done, in no time at all ALL wildlife species - including birds - in the area have been witnessed to come to the gate to cross the fence
10) Check your fences regularly to ensure no wildlife has become entangled. If you find trapped animals, do not attempt to release them yourself. Call Wildlife Victorias 24 emergency number 1300 094 535 for assistance from an experienced wildlife rescuer
MRWN would like to thank www.wildlifefriendlyfencing.com for some of the photos and ideas on this page.