Fox-Proofing a Release Pen
Releasing pheasants into the wild always brings with it a whole variety of concerns and problems. Young birds chirp constantly to one another, and this sound is like music to the ears of any passing fox. Needless to say, thousands of pheasants must come to grief in the mouths of foxes every year, and it is the duty of the gamekeeper to defend his birds as well as he can.
Release pens need to be extremely secure, and in order to house our pheasants, we built a pen using a variety of materials. Galvanised chicken mesh forms the foundation of the pen wall, being strong and flexible. Folding the mesh up from the ground creates an overlap which prevents foxes from digging in at the base, and if you have access to sufficient quantities of mesh, you can afford to be generous with how much overlap you leave. We left just under half of a four foot high sheet of mesh pressed to the ground so that any passing fox would have real difficulty getting through or under it.
In the weaker areas, we laid logs on the mesh so that it was pinned to the ground by the weight, and this should dissuade foxes from even trying to dig in.
The actual walls are made out of reinforced plastic release pen netting, which is extremely strong and durable. It's important to remember that the walls should not be too tight or the mesh too taut when building a release pen, because while a tight wall looks good, it can provide support for a fox who is willing to try and climb over it. A floppy wall will sag back and forth if a fox tries to climb it, and this will give him trouble.
We sell a variety of different electric fencing products, and it seemed sensible to build an electric fence around the base of the pen. Using pigtail outriggers of various sizes and lengths means that you can build a fence with electric wires at different heights and distances from the wall of the pen. This means that any fox trying to get through the fence will struggle to avoid touching the wires as he does so, causing a severe electric shock and teaching him not come back.
After a great deal of preparation, the pen is ready.