Barbed Wire - Fencing Alternatives


We seek a fundamental change in the approach to fencing, a change that considers the welfare of wildlife in the Australian environment.

Businesses and factories have every right to protect their premises, however please reconsider using barbed wire which has proved to be a major hazard for wildlife. Continual entanglements causing horrific injuries and deaths to wildlife must be taken into consideration when planning to build a fence around a property.


Barbed wire fencing is now recognised as a ‘threatening process’ in the recovery plans for a number of species. These include the Yellow-bellied glider, the Mahogany glider, the Spectacled flying fox and Grey-headed flying fox.

There are other options available to secure premises, for example:

  1. With back to base monitoring and surveillance cameras readily available, is it necessary to have barbed wire on top of security fences?
  2. Wildlife Friendly Fencing is fencing that is safe and effective for wildlife, people and livestock:
  • It does not entangle or harm wildlife.
  • Allows the free movement of wildlife across rural and urban landscapes.
  • May mean no fence at all.


Each year thousands of animals face a cruel, agonising death or permanent injury from entanglement on barbed wire fencing. More than 75 wildlife species have been identified in Australia as occasional or regular victims of barbed wire fences, especially nocturnal animals such as bats, gliders and owls.

Frequently flying-foxes and birds can become entangled on barbed wire fences when foraging for food on blossoming native plants and trees which overhang or are adjacent a barbed wire fence.

Many fail to see the fence, or cannot clear the height under windy conditions. Most animals and birds rescued are too severely damaged to return to the wild, and are euthanised.

There are also other fencing hazards, for example, kangaroos get hung up in fences that are too high, whether the fence is plain or barbed.

Wetlands fenced too close to the waterline prevent wetland birds from landing or taking off, especially cranes, and they become entangled by the fencing wire.

It is clear that barbed wire has become both an animal welfare and conservation issue.

How to Minimise the Risk to Wildlife:


  1. If you require a wire fence, replace the barbed wire with plain wire or white plastic coated wire.

Particularly fences that are in recognised hotspots ie. along waterways, around dams, on ridge lines, near native blossoming & fruiting trees.

    2. Similarly electric fencing can be an effective alternative to contain stock.

What you can do to prevent barbed wire fence entanglements:

  • Design your fence to allow wildlife to pass easily.
  • Monitor fences in your local area and report any entangled animals in your area to your local wildlife group.
  • Use plain wire for the top strands of the fence.
  • Keep a 50 cm gap between ground level and the first rail or strand of wire.
  • If you use barbed wire fencing, attach reflective materials such as metal tags or white fence tapes to improve visibility of the fence or wrap the top strand with poly-pipe or similar material.
  • Please think carefully if you really need to use barbed wire at all.

Please make your fences wildlife friendly and encourage others to do likewise.

Read more here: Wild life friendly fencing and netting

Read the article here: 'Shredded': Call for rethink of barbed wire fencing after horrendous deaths.Yahoo News Australia 12 May 2020 - Michael Dahlstrom

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