Our deer are frequently injured and even killed by the ornamental metal fences that are so popular in the Lakeway area and throughout the Hill Country. When deer leap over fences, they can be impaled on spikes or open pickets.
Left: Open Picket Fencing Right: Spiked Fencing
In 2019, Lakeway passed an ordinance banning new spiked and open picket fencing in the city. Instead, all fencing (metal and wooden) must have a continuous flat top. Wonderful! But, that still leave miles of dangerous fencing in existence here.
No one wants to wake up to the screams of a deer impaled on their fence. But, keep in mind that people, especially children, are also injured and killed on these fences. A Georgetown toddler suffocated in 2018 when his neck got lodged between open pickets. A Fort Worth teen died in 2019 when his neck was pierced by a fence spike. A San Antonio worker slipped off a roof in 2018 and was impaled through the torso when landing on the metal fence below; he survived but suffered serious permanent injury. So, if you have a dangerous fence, please understand it is a hazard to people as well as to wildlife.
Happily, there are several ways to make a dangerous metal fence safe, without the costly step of completely replacing it.
1. A matching metal rail can be welded along the backs of the pickets or spikes to create a flat top. This requires a professional. The cost can be reduced by getting a group of area homeowners to have their fences rehabbed by the same company. Here are before and after photos, making a dangerous open picket fence safe.
This can even be done as a DIY project by a handy homeowner, removing the protruding spikes or pickets with a Sawzall. Then, plug the holes at the top of each picket, to keep water out; rubber caps are available from Amazon at little cost.
Here is a short video showing how Lakeway resident, Hamil Cooper, removed the spikes from his fence, making it safe for people and wildlife.
3. Remove the fence panels and replace them with flat-topped panels. If the posts are in good shape, they can remain; this saves money, since digging post holes and cementing them in won’t have to be done.
4. Install coyote rollers on the top of the fence. These are aluminum cylinders that deter coyotes (and large dogs) from jumping a fence. These animals jump upward and then pull themselves over the top of a fence; the cylinders spin, so they cannot get traction. Deer jump differently, so the rollers would simply shield them from dangerous spikes and pickets. Humans are also protected by rollers. Go here for examples and info:
Here is a good resource on dangerous fencing and how to make it safe, with helpful photos: https://www.kadeskrusaders.org/way-to-modify-your-fence