Wombats don’t eat much. They have a low metabolic rate and will hold a grazing territory of up to 20 hectares. Sometimes landholders will not even be aware that wombats are traveling through their property until a wallaby fence is built. Wombats digging under and creating holes that wallabies can use, is one of the biggest threats to the success of wallaby fencing. Plan to manage the problem right from the start.
Be aware that where digging under a fence is occurring it is very likely to be a wombat. Wallabies are not very good at digging. Wombats are very strong and good at digging so simply patching the fence or blocking the hole is only likely to have the wombat push the hole open again or dig another hole close by.
Three options for preventing wombat damage:
Electric fence wires close to the ground
Hot wires about 125 mm from the ground are effective in stopping wombats digging, providing a high voltage can be maintained. The hot wire must be partnered with a robust mesh or wombats will charge the fence and take the shock while passing quickly through and damaging the fence.
Hot wires about 125 mm from the ground are effective in stopping wombats digging.
Maintenance of a high voltage with wires so close to the ground will require significant input including regular spraying of vegetation and a dedicated energiser. This design will sometimes cause the unintended death of animals such as echidnas where they are caught between the ground, the mesh and the hot wire.
Heavy, top swung wombat gates
Heavy, top swung wombat gates can be installed in the hole that has been created by the wombat. The wombat can push this gate open but the wallabies can’t, and wallabies will usually not even see that there is a gate there. The wombat will use the gate because they are very loyal to their regular route.
install heavy, top-swung gates in holes that have been created by wombats.
Well-installed, robust mesh with a footer/apron makes it difficult for wombats to dig under and causes them to seek out weak spots in the fence. Therefore, with a modern fence, a second wombat that comes along is more likely find an existing wombat gate. However, numerous gates may be required in a fence to allow for multiple wombats and wombats that enter at one place and exit the farm at another point in the fence. Have a number of wombat gates made up and ready to deploy at the time of building the fence so wombat holes do not remain open and so time will not be wasted blocking up holes that the wombat will just open up again.
Wombat Gate Design
Shooting wombats - unlikely to prevent damage to fences
Permits are available to shoot wombats if the population is high; but it only takes one wombat to undermine the effectiveness of a wallaby fence. You will not find and get rid of them all, and, as a protected species, you will not get permits to shoot them all.
Where a wombat is happily going through a wombat gate, you need to keep that wombat to maintain the route through the wombat gate; and to maintain that wombat’s territory. The existence of a wombat that holds a territory will reduce the likelihood of another wombat coming along and digging a different hole under the fence.
You are may not see a hole created by a new wombat on your farm for some time after it has been dug, then finding and shooting that wombat will take even more time leaving the fence open for wallabies to come through for an excessive period. A plan that relies on shooting to prevent wombat damage to wallaby fences is likely to result in a failure.