Electric fencing can be a relatively simple, cost-effective and long-term solution for protecting bear attractants that cannot be easily removed or otherwise contained. Temporary or permanent designs can be adapted to a variety of situations – beehives, fruit orchards, hunting and backpacking camps, grain sheds, livestock enclosures, landfills, even campgrounds and homes (see electric unwelcome mats) – and are relatively easy to maintain and economical to build. Solar-powered energizers have made it possible for electric fencing to be used in more remote areas where access to power may be unavailable. See photo examples of electric fencing.
“Electric fences have been the greatest achievement in terms of reducing chicken, beehive and sheep depredation.” — Mike Madel, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
Electric fencing is a passive deterrent, in that it is always working – whether you’re around or not. Electric fences provide an electrical shock when an animal comes into contact with the charged wires of the fence, yet modern electric-fence energizers have been shown to be safe for children, pets and vegetation. Design, construction, maintenance and inspection will determine the effectiveness of an electric fence.
How the fence is grounded is an important consideration, but most crucial is the joule rating of the energizer. For small areas, such as chicken coops or two to three fruit trees, you will typically need an energizer with a joule rating between 0.7 and 1.0. To effectively deter bears, a minimum of 6,000 volts is required. Local vendors for electric fencing and technical assistance.
In partnership with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Bear Smart Durango can assist county landowners with up to $100 in electric fencing materials and help with design and install, if needed. For more information on the Electric Fencing Incentive Program, go here.
The City of Missoula, Montana allows for residents to use electric fencing in deterring bears from beehives, fruit trees, livestock, compost, gardens and more. To see the ordinance go here.
More info on electric fencing to deter bears:
Youtube video on electric fencing to deter bears, courtesy of Russ Talmo, Defenders of Wildlife, Montana.
Youtube video on electric fencing to deter bears, courtesy of Gillian Sanders, Grizzly Bear Solutions, BC, Canada.
Youtube video on electric fencing to deter bears, courtesy: Florida Fish & Wildlife.
- Living with Predators Resource Guide: Electric Fencing (pdf)
- Bear Aware BC: Constructing a Simple Predator Fence (pdf)
- Electric Fencing for Bears: Alaska Fish & Game
- Tahoe Bear Busters: Electric Fencing for Bears
- Florida Fish and Wildlife Electric Fencing Guide (pdf)
- Protecting Your Camp from Bears: Electric Fencing (pdf)
- Protecting Livestock from Predation with Electric Fencing (pdf)
- Premier 1 Supplies
“Electric fence systems work 24 hours a day; people, dogs and aversive conditioning rounds do not.” — Kevin Frey, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Grizzly Bear Management Biologist