Interest in the role of fences in wildlife movement and injuries is growing, especially in the western US, where many miles of barbed wire fences crisscross the landscape. However, literature is limited on the effect of barbed wire on avian populations. From 2016 to 2021, six New Mexico, USA, rehabilitation centers accepted 49 raptors injured by barbed wire. Eight species were represented; the majority were Great Horned Owls (Bubo virginianus). Other owls, buteos, and a single falcon were also affected. Most of the injured birds came from counties with low human population density. The injuries tended to be severe, and most birds died or were euthanized; 11 survived, and only eight birds were released. During the study period, barbed wire injuries accounted for over 12% of Great-horned Owl admissions to rehabilitation centers and 7% of all owl admissions. At one New Mexican wildlife rehabilitation center, raptors admitted for barbed wire–associated injuries were more likely to die or be euthanized compared with those admitted for other reasons. Given the welfare effects to these birds, more research is needed to determine whether wildlife-friendly fence modifications, such as a smooth top wire or rail, would mitigate injuries to birds of prey.

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