Keeping Black Bears Out: A Look At Electric Fences

Posted on: 18 February 2015

According to the U.S. Endangered Species Act, there are approximately 900,000 black bears residing in North America, and while some of the subspecies are endangered or "threatened", most are not. The chances of a fatal attack is relatively low, as there have only been 61 fatal bear attacks since 1900; still, it is generally best to be safe rather than sorry, especially if you have young children or small pets around. If you have a friendly bear who loves to roam your property, it may be time to consider installing electric fences.

How an Electric Fence Works

There is a common misconception that electric fences are dangerous to human beings and small pets. Most people have concluded that any contact with the fence may result in electrocution; however, this is not true. An electric fence operates as an incomplete or open circuit with repeating pulses of electricity being sent through the wiring. When an animal or a human being comes into contact with the fence, they will ground the fence; thus, creating what is known as a closed circuit. 

The electric pulses that are being sent through the wiring will go through whoever or whatever is grounding the circuit, and will travel back to the energizer. This delivers an unpleasant shock that is not lethal at all; however, keep in mind that electric fences may prove lethal for animals that get stuck in the fence for an extended period of time. Their death is generally due to the stress caused by the electric shocks. 

Setting Up Your Fence: What You Will Need

If you're interested in setting up your own electric fences, here's what you will need: a fence charger, fence posts placed in equivalent distances to surround the property, wiring and a ground rod.

The fence charger is typically the most expensive component that you will have to buy. Current research has indicated that you will need an electric charger capable of delivering approximately 5,000 to 6,000 volts if you are looking to deter black bears from getting on your property. You can rely on two different basic energy sources: a 12-volt battery or a 110-volt household current. 

If you already have fence posts set up on your property, there is no need to go out of your way to purchase new ones. Metal or wooden posts will need to have plastic insulators installed with them to prevent the wires from touching the posts. Some homeowners also use plastic or fiberglass fence posts. 

Any type of wiring can be used. Heavier wires with a lower gauge number tend to be able to carry the electric current with less resistance. Aluminum wiring is generally highly recommended as it can carry electricity most effectively and efficiently. 

Last but not least, you will need to have a ground rod otherwise your electric fencing simply will not work. For your ground rod, you can choose either a commercial ground rod or a metal tube. Anything works. To enhance the effects of the ground rod, some experts recommend laying chicken wire under the ground as well in order to conduct the electricity better. Surrounding the ground rod with rock salt is also a good alternative.

Electric Fences Keep Bears Away

If you're having a black bear problem on your property, then you should highly consider installing an electric fence with the help of fencing contractors for your sake and for the sake of your children or any small pets that you may have around. The electric fences are typically quite easy to install, and will offer the protection needed without harming the black bears at all. These fences are easy to maintain and are relatively durable.

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