Wildlife mortality and injury from barbed-wire fences
  • Last updated:
  • 02 Apr 2019

Article by Terrie Ridgway, Bat Rescue Inc. Education Officer

Many thanks to Terrie for contributing this article. Your passion and dedication to Bat Rescue Inc. is much appreciated by both council and the community.
Readers, please note that this article might be confronting as it covers the graphic injury and death of animals.


Tens of thousands of native animals die every year on barbed-wire fences. Sadly, they often take days to die and are left in fear and agony if they are not found and rescued..

Australian Wildlife Hospital (AWH) has treated over 80 different species found caught on barbed-wire fences in the last three years. Out of over 800 individual animals, half were euthanased immediately, and over half were flying-foxes, around 80% of which did not make it.

If released to a carer, after countless hours of care, an animal may recover from its original injuries. At the end of rehabilitation, these animals are then assessed, and sadly, if they are deemed unable to survive in the wild, they are usually then euthanased.

Day-time entanglements can occur when an animal has been chased by dogs or humans, when trying to cross into a better feeding area, or simply going about their regular movements in a world where sadly not everyone is aware or makes room for wildlife.

At night, barbed-wire fencing becomes invisible. Flying-foxes can hit the fencing at speed and twist and fight the wire, trying to chew their way out, resulting in nightmare injuries. Tawny frogmouths, owls, possums, gliders, and koalas are also among the many nocturnal species that can become entangled in barbed-wire.

I’d like to urge you to help these critters. If you do not need a barbed-wire fence, please consider taking it down. However, if you do need a fence, there are a range of options I encourage you to consider:

  • plant a row of trees or shrubs, native of course
  • paling fences
  • single strand, white horse sighter wire
  • mark the top strand of fencing with white UV stabilised poly tape, the wider the better (the white colour helps for night time visibility)
  • double some shade cloth over the top strand of barbed-wire
  • split poly-pipe over the barbed-wire, especially if there are trees or bushes growing through the fence.

On a personal note, I would like to share my observation and belief here that the animal is not in our backyard, eating our fruit or crossing our roads. We have impacted and changed their home to make our own. We need to lift our game and take further action to help the local wildlife.

I encourage you all to please go out and have a look at your fences. Stand back and consider:“what can I do?” Think about wildlife activity in both day and night. Find ways to welcome wildlife back into your life and your property. The rewards are wonderful and never-ending.

If you would like to learn more about wildlife and barbed-wire fencing, please contact me on 0487 930 903.