Action Synopsis: Bird Conservation About Actions

Use electric fencing to exclude fish-eating birds

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

Two before-and-after studies from the USA found that electric fencing reduced the use of fish ponds by great blue herons Ardea herodias and great egrets Casmerodius albus.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. Before-and-after trials in Mississippi, USA (Mott & Flynt 1995), found that a two-strand electric fence reduced pond use by great blue herons Ardea herodias and great egrets Casmerodius albus by 91%. Five ponds (0.3-2.2 ha in area) containing channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus were tested.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A before-and-after trial in August-November 1996 in Pennsylvania, USA (Tobin et al. 1997), found that electric fencing was fairly effective in deterring great blue herons Ardea herodias from raceways (long, 3-6 m wide fish ponds) at two trout hatcheries (declines from 6-14 birds/h/day and 76-159/h/day to <3 and <58 after electric fencing was erected). Fences comprised two strands of polyethylene tape (1.6 cm wide, 15-30 cm apart). Herons were counted (4 counts/week before and after installation; additional counts to 62 days after installation). Reductions in fish predation were not assessed.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Williams, D.R., Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Bird Conservation. Pages 137-281 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

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Bird Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Bird Conservation
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What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

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