What Is Electric Bear Fence, How Does It Work, and Where Do You Need It?

What Is Electric Bear Fence, How Does It Work, and Where Do You Need It?

Pin It

If you live in a country that has bears, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of bear fence. Bears can be a very destructive force when they find their way into human settlements, and they’ve been known to injure or even kill people from time to time.

This is particularly true in small towns and rural areas, where bears might live close to where humans live and work. An electric bear fence is one way to keep them at a safe distance. Here’s how it works, what it is, and where it’s a good idea to have one.

What Is Electric Bear Fence?

Electric bear fence is a kind of very simple electric fence that is designed to deliver a strong but non lethal shock to bears and other animals that touch the fence.

There are permanent and temporary bear fence options that can be used at various kinds of sites, but they all have some kind of structure, wires to carry the current, and an energiser to provide power to the fence.

How Does Electric Bear Fence Work?

All electric fences work basically the same, and electric bear fence is no different.

In order to have current running through your fence, you need to create a circuit – much like the wiring in an appliance or in your house. An electric bear fence achieves this with the fence wires, which are mounted on insulators or insulated posts to keep them from making the whole fence live.

Because the fence needs to be a complete circuit, the wires go out of the energiser, wind around the fence line a few times, and then go back into the energiser to close the circuit.

To ensure that the current can travel through the wires, wherever there is a corner or a break in the fence, your electric fence installer needs to create loops or bridge the wires so that the current can go from one side to the other.

Electric fences also need to be relatively taut, so tension posts usually have equipment like a ratchet style tightener to keep the wires tight.

Electric Fence Energisers

The wires and the circuit they create are very important for your electric bear fence, but you still need an energiser to provide power to the fence.

There are several different options for electric fence energisers for electric bear fence, but the two most common ones are a hard wired option, that connects to your power supply, or a solar power model, that comes with an integrated solar panel.

Energisers usually need to be installed off the ground, so that they don’t sit in water when it rains. They also need to be properly earthed to work correctly, and it’s a good idea to install a deep cycle backup battery whether you have a solar or a hard wired version. This means that when the sun isn’t shining or there’s a power outage, you will still have an energized fence.

Electric Bear Fence Structure

The other important part of an electric bear fence structure is the posts or brackets the fence wires are mounted on.

Sometimes, these are made from steel tubing that is offset from a metal fence. If you use metal brackets to mount your electric fence wires on, you need to make sure that each one has an insulator on each bracket. If your electric bear fence wires touch your fence anywhere, it will create a short, and could affect the operation of your fence. It could also make parts of the fence live, which could be a safety risk for people and animals.

There are also fibreglass fence posts that have integrated loops that you can run your wires through. They’re usually used for temporary electric bear fences, as they are easy to install and remove, so they are reusable.

Electric bear fences can also be installed on wooden posts with nail on insulators, or on T posts or Y sections, with specially made insulators.

It’s important to ensure that you use the right equipment for your electric bear fence, so that the fence works properly and is safe. It will also reduce shorts and maintenance requirements.

Where Might Electric Bear Fence Be Required?

Electric bear fences are often installed around remote industrial sites like oil fields in northern Alberta and British Columbia in Canada. It’s also often installed around waste transfer stations or landfills, which might attract bears looking for an easy food source.

Many people who work in remote parts of the world where there are bears use temporary or portable electric bear fences to protect their camps, using a solar powered fence energiser.

An electric bear fence can keep people safe on work sites, or they can be installed around more permanent industrial or government sites. Be sure to check local regulations though. Electric fences aren’t universally allowed, and many areas require special permits before you can install them.

Best Left to Professionals

There are some kinds of fence that you can install as a DIY project if you are reasonably handy, but there's a lot that goes into building an effective and safe electric bear fence. So if you don't already know how this type of fence works, it's usually best just to leave it to the professionals. They'll be able to install the fence, test it and fix any faults and shorts for you. Then all you have to do is keep the vegetation trimmed along the fence line and get an annual fence test, and you should have a safe - bear free - compound.