Hunters Resources

Confinement of Wild Ungulates Within High Fences

The Wildlife Society ("TWS") has issued a Final Position Statement on high fencing of wild hoofed mammals. The TWS is the foremost association of professional wildlife biologists and managers. This has been developing for some time. The Society recognizes that high (sug. 2.4m) fences are used to improve the management of the contained animals and their habitat but that there are a number of issues and controversy arising from the practice. The following is the policy TWS has finally adopted:

The use of high fences to confine ungulates may have specific and legitimate uses in wildlife management research, but it also carries the potential for significant adverse impacts. The policy of The Wildlife Society with respect to ungulate confinement is to:

Oppose further conversion of the public’s native wildlife to private ownership.
Oppose high-fenced enclosures, regardless of size, if they exclude free-ranging native wildlife from critical seasonal habitats or migration routes.

Support regulations and enforcement to prevent escapes and facilitate recovery in the event of an escape. 

Support state wildlife agencies as the primary regulatory authority over native North American ungulates, including those confined by high fences. State wildlife agencies should work cooperatively with other state and federal agricultural, wildlife, and health agencies as well as hunting groups, conservation organizations, private landowners and managers to prevent problems such as disease transmission and genetic exchange among native wildlife and exotic species.
Encourage anyone using a high fence to confine ungulates to thoroughly analyze and understand potential effects and commit to minimizing risks to native species. This requires a well coordinated effort of state and federal agencies, hunting groups, conservation organizations, private landowners and managers.
For all ungulates confined by high fences, encourage management at or below natural carrying capacity in a manner that prevents inbreeding, diseases, habitat degradation, and effects on non-target species.
Encourage authorized agencies to collaborate with interested parties on funding and development of systems for detecting and monitoring wildlife diseases within enclosed and free-ranging native and exotic ungulate populations.
Support a moratorium on the construction of high-fenced facilities and any shipment of live cervids until live animal diagnostic tests are available for detecting and monitoring important infectious diseases.
Oppose the use of funds generated from traditional sources (recreational licenses, tags, and other fees) for confined-ungulate inspections and regulatory programs.
We wish TWS had emphasized that the purpose of containment is to protect the hoofed animals and the investment in them.

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2015 Conservation Force

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