Fence damage by bare-nosed wombats (Vombatus ursinus) can be a serious problem for farmers wishing to reduce herbivory by other herbivores on valuable crops. We investigated the effectiveness of exclusion fencing to prevent the incursion of unwanted native and feral herbivores and the use of swinging gates designed to allow wombats to pass through the fence without having to damage it. We also examined the temporal response of animals toward exclusion fencing and wombat gates. The 10-month study took place on the interface between natural riparian vegetation and a 22-ha blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) orchard in southeastern Australia. Following the testing of exclusion fencing (i.e., footing wire and flexible fence), we installed 6 swinging wombat gates at existing breach points within the exclusion fencing. Wombat gates were 0.6 m high × 0.5 m wide and constructed of 200 × 100 × 6 mm galvanized steel. We continually observed the response of wombats and other animals to both exclusion fencing and wombat gates using heat- and motion-sensing digital cameras. We made a total of 1,480 detections of the 3 target species—wombats, red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), and swamp wallabies (Wallabia bicolor)—in the study area between August 2007 and June 2008. Most were wombat detections (79%), followed by detections of swamp wallabies (12%) and foxes (8%). Wombats became accustomed to using the gates within 1 month, with an average exclusion rate of 48% in the first month after their installation. For the final 6 months of the project, the number of wombat detections showed an exclusion rate of approximately 25%. The swinging gates were equally consistent in excluding foxes and wallabies. The results of this study showed that swinging wombat gates were effective in regulating access by wombats while excluding other unwanted animals.
Borchard, Philip and Wright, Ian A.
"Bulldozers and Blueberries: Managing Fence Damage by Bare-Nosed Wombats at the Agricultural–Riparian Interface,"
Human–Wildlife Interactions: Vol. 4
, Article 11.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/hwi/vol4/iss2/11