In December, 2019, images were published online which show a red deer that died as a result of a fence that was erected in Denmark, on the border with Germany. The 70km-long fence was erected to limit the risk of African Swine Fever (ASF) arriving in Denmark.
In response to this and similar incidents, the Danish Minister of the Environment, Ms. Lea Wermelin, tasked the Danish Nature Agency to find out how safety measures for animals could be improved. After a review, it was decided that the upper 60 cm portion of the fence should be supplemented with a net with smaller holes – this was so that the legs of jumping animals would not be caught.
Further safety measures included a reduction in height from 1.5 m to 1.2 m in areas where this was possible. In addition, game cameras were put in place to monitor a 600m portion of the fence, which is known to be a common crossing area for many animals.
Fences are not only capable of causing injuries and deaths to wildlife, they also fragment the habitats of many species. While the concerns of all stakeholders need to be taken seriously, including those of farmers, the decision to erect fences should not be taken lightly.
While the CIC is not in a position to comment on the decision to erect a fence in this instance, we are nonetheless pleased to read of these new measures which seek to improve animal welfare in regards to fencing.
Animal welfare and Hunting
Animal welfare is a top priority for hunters and the CIC. Not only do hunters have a duty to prevent the suffering of hunted species, they also have a wider responsibility to care for all forms of wildlife.
Hunters commonly carry out activities specifically for the purposes of animal welfare. They assist in the necessary culling of wildlife populations in order to prevent unnecessary crashes in species numbers. Hunters are also involved in surveying and monitoring wildlife, particularly those susceptible to wildlife diseases (e.g. Chronic wasting disease, African swine fever). The active management of game populations, through activities such as feeding, helps to maintain animal health and prevents starvation.
The CIC has worked to address animal welfare concerns in recent years. A recent example of this was the CIC’s involvement in the establishment of an ASF Task Force, led by the European Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation of the European Union (FACE). The Task Force played a crucial role in persuading the Belgian government to take the necessary steps to limit the spread of the virus following the outbreak in 2018, including erection of fencing. The use of fences to prevent the spread of ASF is not new, with the Czech Republic having successfully used fencing as a means of containing the spread of ASF in the country in 2017.