Sharing Our Space: Wildlife-Friendly Fences

15 May 2024

reflector and duck remnants at Ministik


The Alberta countryside is lined with barbed-wire fences. Fences serve many purposes on private property including confining livestock, marking boundaries, and discouraging trespassing. Sadly, wild birds can become entangled in barbed wire in poor-visibility areas such as strands running over open water or through tall grass in open meadows. I have personally witnessed a deceased duck, pelican, and long-eared owl hanging from barbed wire.

Fortunately, there is an easy trick that can help make your own barbed-wire fence more visible to wildlife in low-visibility areas. Winter is the perfect time to fix this problem; barbed-wire strings above water are accessible in areas that are completely frozen over. Whenever possible, it is best to completely remove unnecessary barbed wire. Otherwise, you can make the fence more visible to birds in flight by attaching flagging tape, old plastic jugs, or homemade reflectors to the strands of wire. You can make your own reflectors using sections of undersill siding cut to approximately 8-cm pieces and adding reflective automotive tape. This snaps onto the string of barbed wire with ease and is secure for many years. 

I can’t think of a more meaningful winter excursion than the time I snowshoed to access a remote wetland in the Ministik Bird Sanctuary to install reflectors along a stretch of wire straddling a frozen wetland. For more info on creating safe habitat for wildlife, visit