Fences are Not Non-Lethal Control Methods
Animal rights protest industry activists regularly claim that lethal control of wildlife is cruel and unnecessary because non-lethal control options are available. Fencing is one of the techniques touted as the solution to many human-wildlife conflicts. While fencing is certainly an option, the cost of fencing can raise concerns regarding economic justice. But that is the subject of another blog.
My point is simply to say that fencing is not necessarily a non-lethal form of control and it certainly it is not a benign a solution as suggested. I have published an article debunking the binary distinction between lethal and non-lethal control. You can read it at http://www.berrymaninstitute.org/journal/fall2012/p._335-338_Commentary.pdf .
But the effect of fences on wildlife is not just an abstract or philosophical point. It’s real. Fences can and do kill. Massachusetts Wildlife magazine article “An Incident of Antler Entanglement” (no author given) 2012 (67:4) pp. 22-3 tells of a two whitetail bucks whose antlers were entangled in electric fence wire. One died and the other was dragging the dead deer around trying to survive.
Lest you think this is just an isolated incident, consider the publication A Landowner’s Guide to Building Wildlife Friendly Fences: How to Build a Fence with Wildlife in Mind, 2nd ed. Revised and updated, 2012 a publication by the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department. This 56 page document shows how fences both in agricultural and residential use kill wildlife.
The next time someone tells you that fences are non-lethal, remind him/her that fences can and do kill. And that possibly lethal control now and not building a fence may be a better long-term option for both your client and the animals.
About the Author
Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control operator who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. His latest book is the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition. He can be contacted at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.
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