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One simple change that could save animals' lives


This is going to be a bit of a busy week for me blogging, because I've got an announcement tomorrow (some of you might know what it's going to be about) and more news on Thursday (bet you don't know that one, though).

Anyway - I thought I would take the opportunity of tomorrow's news to write about something that has been bothering me for a while - something that kills animals, and that could be easily fixed with one small change. And here it is....

The problem

If you have been following this blog for a while you will remember that a couple of years back, when my leg was broken my dad was out walking by himself on the hills, found a roe deer trapped in a fence, managed to free it, but it died almost immediately afterwards.

This is a problem which I have seen many, many times. It happens with wire livestock fences - ones which are about 3ft high, and which are meant to keep cows and sheep in a field, rather than keep deer out. Where gamekeepers or foresters want to keep deer out (or in) they use fences are about six feet tall, which makes it impossible for any deer to jump over them. 

Deer like the protection of the thick woods, but also like to graze in the open fields, so often have to jump the lower livestock fences to go from one to the other. Luckily deer are pretty good at jumping, as you can see from this kangaroo roe deer near my house

This is how deer start a jump, with the front legs pulled up high and the back legs out straight as they push the deer forward. 

The problem comes when they come to move their legs forward to land again. From what I have seen, even big deer such as red deer only jump enough to just clear the fence, which is why you often find tufts of their belly fur caught on barbed wire.

If the two top strands of wire are too close, then the back foot slips inbetween them, and when the deer lands on the other side, the wire twists round tight:

So what happens is the deer is left hanging on the other side:

There are only three possible ways to get free. Either  the wire has to be cut (which a deer can't do), the two strands of the wire are pried apart (my dad had to use  a carabiner off his climbing rope), or the deer has to jump back over again.

Since it's almost impossible for any of these things to happen, then the deer suffers a horrible and painful death as it is trapped:

And sometimes all you find is the leg:

 The solution

We can't stop deer jumping fences, but we can try to find a way to make the fences safer. The fence in this picture is fine, because the strands of wire are too far apart from each other to reach. The other safe way is to use the grid wire, and to wrap round the barbed wire at the top of it, rather than leaving a gap.

If we could encourage farmers and landowners to change how they build fences, then it would save a lot of painful deaths among deer.

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HenstridgeSJ said...

Was not aware of this problem before. Good point, well made. Hope something can be done to remedy it

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