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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Shirley, MA, USA
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    109

    Default Collateral damage on bear fences?

    I'm nervously waiting for spring on the edge of bear country (central Massachusetts), about to find out whether my calculated risk of starting beekeeping was worth it. A specific question for those of you with electric fences for bear protection-- I have lots of other animals in my yard that I do not wish to harm. Do you ever fry any other wild critters, such as raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks that might climb on the fence? Any comments on how to avoid it?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    27,093

    Default Re: Collateral damage on bear fences?

    If your fence will fry anything it is dangerous and ILLEGAL. Farmers who use electric fences use a charger that puts out a charge that Deters the touching of it. Most animals are smart enuf that once zapped they don't go back again.

    What is your Bear Fence System like?
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Postville, Iowa, USA
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    380

    Default Re: Collateral damage on bear fences?

    Choose a wire spacing that will allow the smaller critters to go under the fence. They seldom climb wire fences, including electric ones. They would rather go under or through a fence, except for possums who don't seem to be the sharpest pencils in the box.

    I'd probably put the bottom wire about 12 inches above the ground. That would allow room for small animals to go underneath -- even possums would probably get the hint. Then build your fence up from there.

    I would also consider using alternating "hot" and grounded wires, 8 to 12 apart, and maybe as high as 5 or 6 feet. The alternating hot/ground wires and the extra height will make it more likely that a large determined animal with thick hair will get zapped good.

    I'm not sure why Mark is warning you that your fence might be "dangerous and ILLEGAL" -- you said nothing about hooking it up to line voltage (120 V) or the like. He is right, however, in that getting zapped with a commercial fencer is always unpleasant, but it seldom causes injury or death to critters large or small. Won't say never, but seldom.

    Here is a reputable company: http://www.premier1supplies.com/

    --DeeAnna

  4. #4
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Collateral damage on bear fences?

    Well, when someone uses terms like "fry" in relation to electric fencing I am concerned that their fence is too hot. I have know people who have built bear fences and plugged them right into an electrical outlet w/out a fence charger. That would kill a bear or a person. I don't know what the OPer knows. I was making sure.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Erie, PA
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Collateral damage on bear fences?

    Electric fences for livestock/deer/bear control varry by the volts produced.
    For thick fur(bear, moose, etc.)you need more volts to effect them. Though the volts may be high it is the amps that kill. most fence systems have high volts and low amps.
    I put mine up origionally to keep deer out of my garden. Every spring I put a wedge of apple with some penut butter on the line. The dear only need to test it once and they stay away for the season!
    When I accidentally touch my fence (no fun) I get a shock of between 15,000 and 25,000volts!! BUT the amps are low so I am here to tell you about it.
    SOO it its the AMPS that is important!!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Postville, Iowa, USA
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    380

    Default Re: Collateral damage on bear fences?

    Yes, I've heard the stories too, and I'm quite sure some are true. But I also know someone who doesn't know much about electric fences can easily use the word "fry" rather than "shock" or "zap" to mean getting shocked by a normal electric fence. Given the context of the original post, I strongly suspect this is the case, and my opinion is that GJD simply deserved a factual, friendly answer to his/her question. --DeeAnna

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Collateral damage on bear fences?

    And, in your opinion, what did she/he get?
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    3,770

    Default Re: Collateral damage on bear fences?

    Let's just stick with a conversation on fencing please and take the rest offline.

    I'm having to put up fencing at two locations not on my property where I keep hives. In both cases, the homeowners are taking care of it and both have concerns about collateral damage. In my case, I'll probably forget one day and test the fence myself!
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Postville, Iowa, USA
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    380

    Default Re: Collateral damage on bear fences?

    The only time I personally have seen a critter literally "fried" on a normal electric fence is an unfortunate grasshopper who bridged itself between the grounded steel fence post and the fencer wire. Poor thing probably never knew what hit it.

    Larger critters usually get zapped a time or three and learn their lesson. There is a training/learning period, though, which can be used to your advantage. One source suggested smearing the fence wire with something the target critter likes (peanut butter for deer or raccoons, salmon or tuna juice/oil for bears or coyote). That will enourage it to touch the wire with its nose, get snapped good, and jump back.

    Speaking from experience, once an animal gets through an electric fence past its shoulders, it will be more inclined to leap forward to escape its tormentor than it will be to retreat.

    If I am using 1-wire temporary fencing in winter, my horses sometimes learn to hold their heads well under the fence wire, allow the wire to slide over their heavy manes and wooly backs, and get through the fence that way. A snap or two on their back or rump is not as awful as on their tender noses and ears.

    --DeeAnna

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Clifford Township, PA
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    1,991

    Default Re: Collateral damage on bear fences?

    I'm also confused then, by what the original post is asking. Does fry equate with shock and does shock equate with harm? If so, any electric fence will "harm" the non-target animals.

    Will the typical commercially bought electric fence system actually harm them? Almost never. It will not usually harm any animal and should never actually "fry" them.

    We have an irresponsible person here who likes to show off photos on his website of his home-made electric fence system along with a photo of a deer it killed. A fence does not have to be plugged into house wiring to be deadly. Mark is correct that the term "fry" should set off caution all around.

    Wayne

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Outagamie County, Wisconsin USA
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    908

    Default Re: Collateral damage on bear fences?

    Does the OP even have an electric fence yet? Or, is he wanting to get information on how to properly proceed? He really didn't say specifically that he has one although he might.

    Maybe he is nervous because he is worried about a bear getting into his unprotected hive(s).

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Shirley, MA, USA
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    109

    Default Re: Collateral damage on bear fences?

    Sorry, I had no clue this was going to be a controversial post. "Fry" was just a figure of speech. Replace with "inadvertently injure or kill". I don't know the effect on a small animal of a fence with a charge strong enough to keep a bear away. A nearby beekeeper with a bear problem says his is quite unpleasant to touch. I'm mostly concerned with squirrels and chipmunks climbing on it. They will climb the posts, guaranteed. Racoons will undoubtedly climb it if I bait it, as I have had bear experts and other beekeepers say is highly recommended to train the bears-- you need to get them nosing something like a piece of bacon on the hot wire, or they may just barge through. I don't have an electric fence and don't want one; the post was to try to help me decide if I it is something I want to do-- if a bear shows up, it'll be fence or no bees.
    Greg

  13. #13
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    Jan 2011
    Location
    Shirley, MA, USA
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    109

    Default Re: Collateral damage on bear fences?

    On third thought, I'll clarify it as much as I can. Assuming I install a standard electric fence, to be purchased at my local farm supply store and suitable for keeping bears away:

    1) Will such a fence kill or injure a chipmunk, squirrel or raccoon-sized animal if they manage to somehow get shocked?

    2) Is there any way to install a fence so that it will deter full-grown black bears, but be small-animal shock proof? Some of the installations I've heard of-- stout wooden posts with closely spaced hot and ground wires-- would almost certainly not be. I'm willing to sacrifice some security for this reason.

    thanks for any information you can provide, Greg

  14. #14
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    Jan 2009
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    Clifford Township, PA
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    Default Re: Collateral damage on bear fences?

    Electric fences are generally a non-controversial subject here, that is, until someone posts his plans for homemade death traps made from microwave transformers. "Fry" is what his "bear fence" will do to a living nervous system.

    I know plenty of beekeepers with "normal" electric fences, and two of my new beeyards will be getting them this spring. I don't know of anyone who finds furry little bodies beneath their fences. Sure, your local beekeeper friend is correct that it is "quite unpleasant" to touch and he will not knowingly touch it again. Neither will the other critters that come into contact with it but I don't believe that you have anything to worry about other than giving the critters something to remember as they live out their normally allotted days on the planet.

    Don't wait until bears destroy your bees before putting up the fence. It is almost always cheaper to take measures beforehand. I'm living on borrowed time here as my neighbors birdfeeders were raided last fall while my home bees, 50 yards away, were spared.

    Wayne

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,200

    Default Re: Collateral damage on bear fences?

    I have had my electric fencer up for two years, it is a legal one bought from the farm store. I have the lowest wire 6 inches from the ground as I want nothing in the bee yard except for me and the bees. I have seen nothing killed by it other than an occasional slug, when the slug slithers and makes a contact between the wire and a fence post it makes a loud snapping sound.
    The current that flows through this type of fence is on for milliseconds and won't kill furry critters, or balding 40 something beekeepers.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Postville, Iowa, USA
    Posts
    380

    Default Re: Collateral damage on bear fences?

    ...Small animal shock proof...

    I don't think that is an entirely feasible goal, especially since you are also concerned about deterring bears, but if "small animal shock proof" is a high priority I think you can minimize the chances. Some suggestions:

    Keep the bottom hot wire high enough off the ground that a small animal is not likely to touch the wire just passing by. (But keep in mind that bear cubs can pass under wires that are too high).

    Use a reasonable minimum of support posts, so there will be fewer places a small animal can climb up to reach the hot wires.

    Use a long stand-off insulator so the fence post and the hot wire are separated by as much distance as possible. Example: http://tinyurl.com/4vgfql3 This type of insulator won't work well with high tensile fence, but it is fine for most other electric fence types.

    ...[not] kill or injure a chipmunk, squirrel or raccoon-sized animal...

    I really do think that is something you can realistically expect with any "normal" electric fence installation. Manufacturers of UL tested electric fencers really do not want to kill or injure animals or humans. (Although grasshoppers may be another story!)

    "...The most effective fence charger will have the highest, safest power (voltage and current) possible with the shortest on-time, thereby allowing the fence charger to develop a shock which is more effective and at the same time is safe to use...." Source: http://www.parmakusa.com/faq.htm#Q6

    --DeeAnna

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    434

    Default Re: Collateral damage on bear fences?

    I have many bear fences up and have never seen any small animals killed by the fence.

    Bears like to go under a fence not over a fence. Low, closely spaced wires are more important than a high fence. Once a bear gets into a fence and tastes the products of the hive, they will dig under the fence at times. That's why its important to get a good fence up before the bears hit them.

    BTW DeeAnna

    Dry snow and frozen ground are not great electrical grounds. Not sure if those are your winter conditions but that may bee the reason your horses are testing the fence.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Limestone Co, Alabama
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    1,674

    Default Re: Collateral damage on bear fences?

    Quote Originally Posted by DeeAnna View Post
    ...Small animal shock proof...
    The only vertebrate I ever saw... well that I ever found that was harmed by an electric fence was a three foot long no shoulders. For some reason it decided to crawl over the bottom wire instead of under it like any good snake would.

    It is going to be very hard for wee things to climb on an electric fence since electric fences are simple, single strand affairs. Besides, any animals able to climb on an electric fence are likely not grounded and so are immune to electric shock.

    Electric fences are safer than walking under the electric companies’ power lines. On the 6:00 news I bet you are always hearing about coons, snakes, and squirrels who got their 15 minutes of fame by cavorting on the utility companies' power pole.
    Scrapfe---Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.--Otto von Bismarck.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Postville, Iowa, USA
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    380

    Default Re: Collateral damage on bear fences?

    ...Dry snow and frozen ground are not great electrical grounds...."

    Yup, I'm well aware of that. And shaggy pony manes and thick winter fur are great electrical insulators, which aggravates the problem. I am sure that would be true for bears too.

    Winter boredom also increases their desire to test the fences, because it's just something to do. Best cure is to keep them busy with large bales of cornstalks (or straw) to play with, lie on, and root through. But I digress from the topic... --DeeAnna

  20. #20
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    Nov 2010
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    Postville, Iowa, USA
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    Default Re: Collateral damage on bear fences?

    duplicate post
    Last edited by DeeAnna; 03-01-2011 at 07:45 AM. Reason: duplicate post

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