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Deer toll mounts due to poor fencing practices

24/09/2008 11:55:51

Deer caught in a fence in Sussex. WRAS

Deer casualty numbers double.

September 2008. Deer and other wildlife are dying unnecessarily from being caught in wire fencing and discarded netting. East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service has dealt with 18 cases of deer caught in stock fencing or netting this year, compared with 7 in all of 2007.

The voluntary wildlife rescue charity is appealing to farmers to stop using strands of plain or barbed wire when erecting new or replacing fencing especially in areas where there are deer.

"Last week we had two calls about young deer caught in stock fencing, at Dallington near Heathfield and another at Cripps Corner near Battle. The young female caught at Dallington is the third deer this year to be caught in the same new fencing erected earlier this year" said Trevor Weeks, founder of WRAS.

Discarded netting & wire
"It is not just stock fencing but discarded netting, wire and electric fencing which cause deer to become caught. We have even had deer caught in the netting of football goals and rope swings plus two deer tied together by their antlers by discarded bailer twine" said Trevor.

Most deer which are entangled in netting can normally be released after a check over, but deer caught in stock fencing are not so lucky and normally need specialist orthopaedic veterinary help to rebuild the blood supply and use of the foot on the leg which was caught.

Dangerous Rescues.
"Deer rescues are some of the most difficult and dangerous we get called to especially when callers have cut the deer free and they are struggling to move round a field. This normally causes more damage to the leg as a result." said Trevor.

"Deer can kick very hard indeed, I had the bruises in the past to prove it! However, if you see a deer caught up, please do not approach it and do not cut it free. Call us for help. It is easier and safer for us to deal with the deer whilst caught than once it is struggling to escape across a field" said Trevor.

The solution.
"There is a simply solution to the problem of fence caught deer, and that is to remove the top stands of plain or barbed wire also known as "fly wires". If extra height is needed then additional mesh should be used or a wooden rail used.

Deer resce is Sussex. Credit WRAS.

Deer resce is Sussex. Credit WRAS.

The Forestry Commission's "Managing Deer in the Countryside" Practice Notes says...

"This problem can be avoided on new fences by using a wider mesh where the additional height is required. On existing fences the fly wires [such as plain or barbed wire] should be removed and a top rail added at regular deer crossing places or ‘hot spots'. The use of barbed wire on woodland boundary fences should be avoided where deer are present."

"The removal of discarded netting, picking up bailer twine, storing electric fencing when not in use, removing goal netting when pitches are not in use (EG on school playing fields during holidays) are sensible and easy ways of avoiding these other problems from occurring." added Trevor, "so I urge all landowners to look at changing the way they construct fencing."

Sheep Myth.
"One landowner told me that they didn't think deer would enter the same field as sheep so thought it was ok to continue using barbed wire on top of their stock fencing, but this is unfortunately a myth and as the recent deer at Dallington showed a deer became caught in fencing where there were sheep grazing" said Trevor.

Plea to help deer.
"So please next time you erect or replace any fencing please do not use barbed wire or strands of plain wire but extend the height of the stock fencing or add additional wire mesh or a top wooden rail. Have a heart and prevent these incidents from happening on your fences" said Trevor.


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