Select The Best Design For Your Site
Before you buy or build an anti-deer fence, decide how often the fence will be moved. Choose from:
Anti-deer fences—why some work & some don’t
The only 100% deer barrier is an 8 ft tall woven wire fence or a solid wall. But these are both very expensive and very permanent. An alternative is electrified fences. They rely upon a painful shock to persuade deer to neither jump nor penetrate a fence. Because they aren't physical barriers, electric deer fences rely upon some key deer behavior principles:
- Deer, like us, are creatures of habit.
Where they choose to feed, rub, walk and breed are habits learned over time—a habit reinforced every time they do it safely. Suddenly fencing a deer herd away from an area or trail forces the herd to break a habit pattern. That is why the first day and first week of denial of use (by a fence) is critical if the fence is to succeed. Once a herd’s daily pattern is broken, the change in feeding/walking/rubbing location is easier to maintain.
- Deer make “risk-benefit” decisions about feeding sites, trails and rubbing trees.
Electric fences use pain to raise the “cost” (the degree of risk and effort to use an area) and persuade deer that it is safer and less frightening to feed, rub or trail elsewhere. When they are desperate they may risk the pain—which is why you can’t keep out starving deer with electric fencing if the site is their only food source.
- Electric fences work when deer have time to make a decision to avoid them.
That’s why it’s important to identify deer trails entering a new exclusion area and interrupt them with something physical (e.g. a brush pile) where the trail approaches the fence. Do this at the same time the fence is installed. Why? The trail change makes them tentative. So they move cautiously.
- Don’t hunt near the fence.
Why not? Because frightened deer don’t make normal decisions. As prey animals they are easily spooked into leaping over or through fences. And once deer learn that they can jump the fence without pain, they’re more likely to do so when not frightened, a habit that’s costly to break.
- Don’t fence the entire area all at once.
Why not? The intent is to first change the herd’s “habits.” So install a new fence around a small area first. The local deer herd will encounter it, learn to avoid it and instead feed or rub in adjacent areas. Leave it in place for 2 weeks. Then progressively expand the enclosed area until 100% is protected.
- Deer interpret a fence in their terms.
Their world is black, white and shades of gray. Therefore, barriers that contrast with their view of the world are the most visible to deer—and likely to get their attention.
It’s been our experience that electric fences for deer fail because:
- Installed at the wrong time (after the herd's habit is ingrained).
- Managed without an awareness of how a deer herd interacts with fences.
To Reduce Risk and Liability…
Are electric fences a serious safety risk to humans?
Because touching an electric fence is painful and the voltages are high, most assume that the risks from an energized fence must also be high. That's a myth. Consider that millions of people throughout the world are "exposed" to millions of electric fences every day—yet they are involved in (but are not always the cause of) less than one human death or serious injury per year worldwide. Compare that to the number of annual injuries and deaths that occur from human exposure to tractors, skid loaders, ladders, PTO shafts, balers, mowers, combines, bulls, stallions, rifles, shotguns, knives, etc. This is not to suggest that there is no risk at all. There is, indeed, a small level of risk. And with risk, there is also liability to the fence's owner.
What NOT to do!
- Never place your head or upper spine near an electrified wire. Accidental head or neck contact can occur when pushing a voltage probe into the soil. Be careful when doing so to avoid head-to-wire contact!
- Never attempt to step over or climb through an energized fence of any kind.
- Never encourage anyone to touch an electric fence.
In 1991 an accidental fatality occurred when a young child's head contacted an electrified fence while the child was crawling on wet grass. The fence was correctly installed and functioning properly. The energizer was a UL approved unit. As a result, Premier strongly advises against allowing toddlers access to any electrified fences. Also, due to this incident and others, experts now suggest that human contact by an energized wire to the head and neck may be the most dangerous point of contact. We urge all to especially avoid this kind of contact.