Sunday, June 30, 2013
Good Fences Are Not Necessarily Good
Where we live fences are for keeping animals in, rather than people out. It’s a different way of thinking. Chain-link is definitely not a country style. Barbed wire is. But again, that is to keep animals in, not people out. Some animals do stay out, and that is good, but not the primary objective of sinking posts and running wire.
Of course, there are places where fences are for keeping people in, and where that is a social necessity, one can applaud the construction and maintenance of such barriers. Where that falls apart, in my mind, is trying to restrain people or animals that have not, in any way, done something for which restraint is obligatory or a social or economic necessity.
There is one other aspect to the fence idea. Fences only work where those seeking either entry or exit agree to abide by the rules. For a person or an animal determined to contravene a fence, there is no barrier strong enough, high enough or painful enough to stop them short of a bullet or its equivalent. They will find a way, usually illegal, to get around a fence. But that is true of any artificial barrier, isn’t it?
Where we live, we use a more economical and easier to maintain method: "Posted" signs. I dislike putting them up, but unless you want to host hunters you don’t know, or share your fields with unknown 4-wheeler drivers, you really have to do something to establish your rules of use and behavior. So we put up signs and mark posts and trees in lieu of fences. We still have trespassers, but at least they don’t cut or tear down fencing when they misuse our land.
Is there a solution other than fences or signs? I think there must be. The only one that comes to mind (that is legal) is to be vigilant, but willing to prosecute those who perform illegal acts, and those who encourage or condone such acts in others. It does nothing to solve the problem if you simply say, "Don’t do that again."
Aside from predatory animals (human and otherwise), little harm is done beyond interruption and annoyance when invisible fences are crossed. Sometimes, too, great good can come from those willing to take a chance and come onto property fenced or unfenced. I don’t hold much with people trying to sell me something (a product, a politician, a proselytizer), or animals looking for food (bears, raccoons, coyotes), but unless they are abusive they are no more than an interruption to my day. It is even possible that there is something to learn from a visit.
I might even take away an idea for an essay.