raccoons in sweet corn and not afraid of electric fence

hannah9880(5b)August 25, 2011

This is the first time in our long history of gardening that raccoons have not been controlled with electric fencing. Our digital meter indicates our solar charged fencing gives off 6000v +. We are resorting to traps placed INSIDE the fence, and so far have caught 3, using tuna and marshmallows for bait. Earlier on they were breaching the AC-charged fence--only 2500 v.

I froze all my Kandy Korn in one day in order to get some. I have 8 patches of sweet corn( different varieties) and am worried about getting any more for the freezer. I like to give some to our neighbor and haven't been able to do that either.

Is there some kind of animal wisdom at work here that augurs a bad winter ahead?

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Sounds to me like your fence still isn't hot enough. Once they get used to feeding inside the fence they are much harder to deter. Up the voltage even more if you can. That's what I'd try. Then kill all the ones that get inside.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 8:43AM
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grandad_2003(9A/sunset 28)

This is not good. My 1250 V fence has worked well for about 10 years. Only once when grounded out by grass did the raccoons raid the sweet corn. Since then all is well as long as the 1250 V is maintained... Hopefully, high voltage coons are not in everyone's future.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 12:33PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Is your electric fence working properly? How many wires does it have? Is the soil damp around the ground? Is the soil moist under the fence?

Lots of questions!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 3:00PM
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You say your fence is solar powered? Are you sure it's working at night? The fence may work when directly powered, but the batteries could be shot or not working, and once the sun goes down, so does the fence. I can't see that raccoons would beable to get used to being shocked. Either the fence isn't working at night, or they have found a way to NOT get shocked. I agree also with Wayne, make sure the grounding is ship-shape; no ground = no shock.


    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 3:28PM
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IMO, you need a nonelectrified 6-8 foot metal fence with a floppy top.

It sounds like those raccoons have figured out a way to ground out your electric fence to get at the goodies.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 5:58PM
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That was supposed to be "nonelectrified" not "lectrified"

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 6:00PM
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Dang it!
I knew those electric fence people dominated here,
but it looks like other viewpoints are being censored.

But that's crazy, there must be something I'm missing.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 6:04PM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

Are there any busted strands or other openings that could have let them get in without touching a hot wire? Are the fence sections properly connected to each other?

Try walking around the fence, checking different strands, and see if there's anyplace that might have lost current.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 6:22PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I had turned my fence power on and had forgotten that...I turn it off during the day. Even though I was in rubber boots, it packed some shock. Uh, .......

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 7:18PM
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It is most probably a dry weather failure. There is no rule that the fence should work, if the ground has no moisture it will not work.

I have two el. fences. One is at the top of a chainlink fence and AFAIK has never failed. You can imagine a groundhog climbing and connecting nose on the wire, paws on the fence, and of course the fence touches the ground in many places.

The other one has two wires, 4 and 8 inches above ground, and fails occasionally, always in dry weather, with the main entry point at a spot covered with wood chips. This one will get a drip line all around the perimeter, and a ground wire also all around the perimeter, next summer.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 10:39PM
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This summer has been very rainy and the ground is not dried out. It is still soggy.

Three years ago when woodchucks were violating the fence, I studied up on fencing issues and thereafter have added an additional ground wire directly on the ground. No more woodchucks.

Each morning before dawn and before we bought the digital meter, I would go out and check the solar fence with the lighted meter and it would show at least 3 lights (2500 volts). Could not read the meter unless somewhat dark out. So I don't think the battery is at fault. We bought a new battery this summer.

As to the number of wires: we now have a ground wire totally around the perimeter of the garden . This runs all the way back to the charger and/or the ground rod. Above that there are wires at four and eight inches off the ground. These are the shockers. Also at waist height is another wire, the "deer" wire.

Perhaps we need to get MORE ground rods. Is there any way to check the efficacy of this ground wire?

Only the passage of next winter will tell if my original question about animal wisdom has any validity.

Thanx for the many suggestions.

We trapped the fourth raccoon this morning, inside the fence. What I'm really concerned about are the grapes ripening so nicely inside another area (now protected with the AC charger). We were going to transfer the solar charger to the orchard after corn season. We actually now have two traps going in two separate corn patches. Sigh.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 9:07AM
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Checking an earth, deliberatly short the fence about 30meters from the earth post. test between the ground and the earth cable, if over 200v then use more stakes. If you don't have a tester, use your hand and if you feel a tingle - increase earthing.
Best place for an earth rod is in wet soil - below a dripping tap, under the eaves, in a stream bed or in a watered flower bed.

A very good technique is to bait the fence. Developed for difficult animals and is highly effective.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bait Caps

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 9:29AM
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Perhaps a wet branch somehow contacts a live wire and grounds out the battery.

Wouldn't that would leave your garden unprotected for the rest of the night?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 11:31AM
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Surely you have checked the perimeter for shorts, and shorts also let in groundhogs and rabbits. Could it be that raccoons have taught one another to jump the fence? They are social animals. I knew a guy long ago who kept losing kois (a multicolored carp) from a pond, installed a fence, and had a brief respite. One night there was a storm that knocked out power, and the morning after several kois were missing. One may reasonably conclude that the raccoons were testing the fence most nights.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 2:58PM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

Try putting your ground wire between the two hot wires. With a good amount of fur, the coons could be crawling between the wires and not grounding themselves in good contact with the hot wires and the earth or the wire you have on the ground. I had a similar problem with coons getting through the wires in years past, but switched it so that the first hot wire was about 4" off the earth, then 5" higher was a ground wire wrapped around each metal stake it passed, then about 6" above that was a second hot wire. Coon problems stopped right away and I haven't had any since unless the fence was not on or something else caused it to ground out and go cold.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 3:04AM
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Thanx beeone. We will try that. Sometime ago I read an article from MSU that suggested using insulators inside and outside the metal stakes in order to make sure the pest touches the ground and the hot wire. Obviously we are obsessive about checking for plants grounding the fence, and, you might call me the 'Glyphosate Girl.' As I said at the outset, we have been gardening for a long time, and this is the first time we have been unable to control raccoons.
Thanx also Tokoloshe: will have husband do this test--I'm too chicken.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 6:03AM
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I agree re: when the ground is dry, they don't get much of a shock. At hvpsa.com I learned that I should run grounded wires between the hot wires. I also got a sensor from them that calls my cell phone when the fence goes down. But the alternating grounded wires solved all kinds of problems for me on my garden fence.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 7:20AM
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Here's a site that runs through the basics http://www.equisearch.com/farm_ranch/fencing/electricfence_021005/

Here is a link that might be useful: How to Select, Install Electric Fence

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 1:11PM
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harveyhorses(7 Midlothian Va)

What kind of fencing are you using? Plain wire? The tapes and ropes wear out, so there could be one section that does not get a charge.
Have you checked the charge all the way around, top to bottom? Tedious I know, but we had one bottom strand that just had a bad connection. Took us all day to figure it out. Agree about putting a hot wire down low.
Do you have a ground rod? Rebar in the ground 8ft or so? That is what my ground wire goes to and all my fence wires are hot.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 3:13PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

I agree with those who suggest that a poor ground may be the most likely culprit. For my fence, I drove in two 8-foot copper ground rods, the same ones they use for house grounding. The two rods are connected with heavy gauge copper wire. They work great through wet weather or dry... I just hope I never have to pull them out. ;-) Oh, and a fence pole driver made quick work of driving the rods for the first 6 feet.

No one has mentioned the wire yet. I started off using steel fence wire, but bought aluminum wire one year. Wow! What a difference! The spark was visibly stronger than it had been with steel, on the same charger. Aluminum wire is more expensive, but I highly recommend it, especially for long runs.

My method for fence testing isn't scientific, but it works. I use a rod with a rubber handle, but a garden trowel with a rubber handle works just as well. With the fence on, first ground the rod against a metal fence pole, then move the tip toward the wire. Hopefully as it nears, it will snap loudly, and you should see a fairly bright spark... in which case it is strong enough. If the spark is weak, then it probably won't keep raccoons out (or groundhogs). In that case, I would check for (1) bad connections; (2) poor ground; or (3) a weak fence charger. Also, check the insulators for dirt or debris which might allow a current path to the poles.

Chargers do go out, I had to replace mine after about 10 years of use. It still "worked", but the spark was so weak I could hold the wire.

All that being said... raccoons are very determined pests. The fence works best to discourage them from entering for the first time. If they get a taste of something they like before the fence is on, they will put up with a minor shock to get in. I got my fence up late one year, and the raccoons got a taste of the corn - they then found a way in even after I charged the fence. Fence chargers rated for use against predators (which can be similarly tenacious) are more effective - they really sting. They are also better at "burning" (killing) most vegetation that touches the wires.

My fence has chicken wire on the bottom, which I connect to an aluminum ground wire woven in a loop throughout the length of the fence. The chicken wire is stretched tightly enough so that it can't be pushed over. There are two closely-spaced hot wires just above the chicken wire, to discourage anything from climbing over. There are also two "deer wires", spaced just far enough apart so that I can climb over the first, and under the second. Fortunately, deer don't seem to grasp that concept.

Unfortunately, sometimes deer "bull rush" the fence, snapping the wires. I find tufts of their fur caught in the wires... that really had to hurt. :-o

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 2:05AM
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