Montana Department of Transportation

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Research

Testing "Wildlife Friendly" Fence Modifications to Manage Wildlife and Livestock

Generally, fences along roadways serve as safety measures to humans from vehicular collisions with wildlife and livestock by containing animals in appropriate pastures and keeping them off roadways. However, fences can act as semi-permeable or complete barriers to wildlife movement. As a consequence, through landscape fragmentation, fences reduce landscape connectivity, impede resource selection, and in addition, are a direct cause of mortality in ungulates (e.g. pronghorn, elk, deer) and other species (e.g. sage-grouse). To combat these effects on wildlife, multiple fence modifications have been recommended by management agencies to either facilitate or deter wildlife and/or livestock from crossing fences. However, none of these ‘wildlife friendly’ fence modifications have ever critically been tested for effectiveness. Further, there is not a clear understanding on the effects of fence densities on wildlife movements and on large scale connectivity. Agencies need effective approaches and tools to identify and prioritize locations to install ‘wildlife friendly’ fencing when considering mitigation measures for wildlife movement at both small and large scales, all while keeping livestock in proper pastures.

We have deployed 40 remote cameras in MT and ~50 cameras in AB to capture and process images of wildlife interacting with fencing. Standardized procedures across study sites allow us to collect uniform data on wildlife-fence interactions and assess wildlife and livestock use based on statistical procedures.

Please contact Sue Sillick ( or 406-444-7693) for more information.