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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Effectiveness of fences to exclude European rabbits from crops

Published source details

McKillop I.G. & Wilson C.J. (1987) Effectiveness of fences to exclude European rabbits from crops. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 15, 394-401


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Install electric fencing to protect crops from mammals to reduce human-wildlife conflict Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A replicated, before-and-after, site comparison study in 1980–1983 on 24 arable sites in southern UK (McKillop & Wilson 1987) found that electric fences reduced European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus numbers on crops. Rabbit numbers fell on plots protected by a Flexinet® fence (0–4 weeks after erection: 6.7 rabbits/count; 5–20 weeks after erection: 7.6 rabbits/count; before erection: 42.7 rabbits/count) and a Livestok® fence (0–4 weeks after erection: 10.1 rabbits/count; 5–20 weeks after erection: 17.6 rabbits/count; before erection: 48.0 rabbits/count). Rabbit numbers in unfenced plots remained constant throughout (0–4 weeks after erection: 15.9 rabbits/count; 5–20 weeks after erection: 13.3 rabbits/count; before erection: 13.6 rabbits/count). Electric fences (0.5 m high) were erected along one side of winter barley fields. Flexinet® (seven sites) had 80 × 80-mm mesh and Livestok® (seven sites) had 500 × 50-mm mesh. Ten unfenced sites were also monitored. Adult rabbits were counted using spotlights and binoculars in November–April between 1980 and 1983.

(Summarised by Nick Littlewood)

Install non-electric fencing to exclude predators or herbivores and reduce human-wildlife conflict Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A replicated, before-and-after, site comparison study in 1980–1983 on 23 arable sites in southern UK (McKillop & Wilson 1987) found that wire netting fences reduced European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus numbers on crops. Rabbit numbers on plots protected by fences with a buried fence base were lower 0–4 weeks after erection (7 rabbits/count) and 5–20 weeks after erection (7 rabbits/count) than before erection (41 rabbits/count). Numbers were also lower on plots protected by fences with the base folded horizontally along the ground 0–4 weeks after erection (11 rabbits/count) and 5–20 weeks after erection (7 rabbits/count) than they were before erection (45 rabbits/count). Rabbit numbers in unfenced plots remained constant throughout (0–4 weeks after erection: 16 rabbits/count; 5–20 weeks after erection: 13 rabbits/count; before erection: 14 rabbits/count). Fences (0.9 m high) were erected along one side of winter barley fields. Fences had bases buried 150 mm deep and then projecting horizontally underground for 150 mm (six sites), or laid out horizontally for 150 mm at ground level (seven sites). Ten unfenced sites were also monitored. Adult rabbits were counted using spotlights and binoculars in November–April between 1980 and 1983.

(Summarised by Nick Littlewood)