Date of this Version
Wildlife Society Bulletin 35(1):9–14; 2011; DOI: 10.1002/wsb.2
Direct and indirect contact through fences at cervid farms with only a single perimeter fence may play a role in transmission of diseases such as chronic wasting disease or bovine tuberculosis (Mycobacterium bovis). We report a case study examining effectiveness of a baited electric fence, as an addition to an existing single woven-wire fence (2.4 m high), for altering behavior and reducing fence-line contact between elk (Cervus elaphus). We used a video-surveillance system to monitor one 20-m-long test fence at an elk ranch in north-central Colorado, USA from 2006 to 2007. We conducted 26 trials (11 without electric fence during 48.2 total cumulative days and 15 with electric fence during 63.7 days) with different levels of motivation for contact between groups of elk separated by the test fence. We documented 426 contacts between elk (direct transmission risk) or the woven-wire fence (indirect transmission risk) during trials without the electric fence. We documented 0 contacts between adult elk or the woven-wire fence during trials when the electric fence was in place. During our case study, 24 of 25 elk exposed to the electric fence were completely deterred. We emphasize that our approach targets behavior modification of farmed elk routinely exposed to the electric fence, not wild elk that may occasionally approach from the outside. Our results suggest that adding a baited electric fence inside an existing woven-wire–fenced enclosure has potential to provide a cost-effective means to minimize contacts between farmed and wild elk.