constructing a rangeland fence gate   close-up view of wire spacing on a rangeland fence in the BLM Owyhee Field Office

Wildlife-friendly fences



CREDIT: K. Wilson-Avery; pronghorn antelope moves under a wire fence


Rangeland fences on public lands are effective tools for managing areas allotted for livestock grazing, but they can also become traps or barriers to wildlife that utilize the same areas for habitat or migration.

Elk, deer, pronghorn, bison, sage-grouse and other species may be injured or killed when they collide with or become tangled in a fence.

"Wildlife-friendly" design features prevent injury to wild animals and lessen wildlife damage to range fences. 

A Guide to Wildlife Friendly Fence (Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks) 



view of wire spacing on a range fencing fence line in the BLM Owyhee Field Officedeer jumping over a range fencesmooth fence wire clip on fencepost that allows wire to be "let down"  









Spacing between wires can be adjusted to allow wildlife to pass through a fence unharmed.


Using the fewest number of wires required to enclose or exclude livestock means less risk of collision or entanglement for wildlife.


The height of the fence should allow adult animals to jump or fly over, with the bottom wire or rail high enough for pronghorn, calves and fawns to crawl under.


Smooth wire – at least for the top and bottom strands – prevents snagging and injuries.


Drop-down, let-down, or lay-down fences can be temporarily lowered during wildlife migration periods, when built with clips, staples, or stays that allow variable fastening.


High visibility is the best way to prevent collisions.  Durable flagging or "undersill" strips of white vinyl siding make wire strands stand out in the field of vision.