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Electric Fence Effectiveness in reducing badger damage to field crops



Crop Protection - Volume 21, Issue 5 , June 2002, Pages 409-417


D. W. Poole, I. G. McKillop, G. Western, P. J. Hancocks and J. J. Packer


The effectiveness of an electric strained-wire fence to exclude badgers was assessed in a two-year study conducted on commercial farms in the south-west of England. Twelve forage maize fields, with a history of badger damage, were selected from these farms and the test fence erected at six of them. The remaining six were left unfenced and acted as controls. The fences were erected prior to cob emergence and remained in place until harvest when estimates of crop damage were made. Fence effectiveness was determined by comparing the amount of damage in the fenced and control fields. Habitat use and ranging behaviour of a sub-sample of badgers were also studied to determine whether they entered fields prior to fence erection and where they went in response to exclusion. Badger welfare, in terms of humaneness, was evaluated by comparing the night-time activity periods of badgers and by monitoring their daytime use of setts. The fence proved an effective barrier to the movement of badgers with damage to plants in the fenced fields representing only 5% of that in the corresponding unfenced controls (fenced: 2419 plants damaged/ha; unfenced: 433161 plants damaged/ha). Only one badger was observed within the fenced fields with most preferring to forage on pasture, unfenced forage maize and other cereals following fence erection. Erection of the fences had no detrimental effect upon the length of time badgers were active or on where they rested during the day. The fence design therefore shows considerable potential as an effective and humane method of excluding badgers from field crops and other vulnerable areas.


Electric fences; Badger damage; Badger management

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