Fence Markers to Prevent Sage Grouse Collisions: Frequently Asked Questions

August 18, 2014

CONTACT: Deborah Richie, SGI Communications Director:

(Photo of clipping on a white vinyl fence marker:  Credit Jeremy Roberts, Conservation Media)


The Sage Grouse Initiative published two stories on marking fences last week, showing the power of volunteers, partners and ranchers working together to help sage grouse:

As a followup, we’d like to make sure landowners and managers have the resources they need. Marking  at-risk fences can reduce deadly collisions by up to 83 percent, according to research by Bryan Stevens, University of Idaho, 2012. Fence-marking to help sage grouse is becoming increasingly popular as a volunteer activity, with high potential to involve youth in the outdoors, as well as families, and community organizations.


1. Which fences are important to mark ?
Answer: Sage grouse are most at-risk of hitting fences that are close to leks, spring courtship dancing grounds, where males gather and fly in before dawn in the darkness.  The flatter the landscape, the harder it is for the sage grouse to see the fences.
For more information, download our two-page PDF about an effective mapping tool to help target the fences that pose the highest risk for grouse strikes:   Marking High-Risk Fences Saves Sage Grouse

2. Where can I find sources for fence markers? (either the typical white markers or the black markers that show up well against the snow.)
Answer: There are several options.

A. Your local Natural Resources and Conservation Service office (in sage grouse habitat areas) can provide information to help you find sources for markers. Find your local NRCS office here .  If you live in Montana and are not part of an SGI project, but would like to mark fences and are looking for a source, the Montana Fence Marking Partnership offers free markers. (If you are interested in participating or contributing to this voluntary program, please contact Bruce Waage, NRCS-BLM: 406-657-6135 or Pete Husby, NRCS: 406-587-6902.)

B. To make your own markers, download: How to make and install fence markers for sage grouse (NRCS)

C. To order pre-made fence markers, we have partners on the SGI website who provide them. Our newest partner, Pexco, sells the black fence markers that show up against the snow, if interested in a double-marking project for a high-elevation site (as in this story).  Please feel free to peruse our partners page and Join the Partnership! (We have a form on our partners page you can fill out).

4. Where do I place the fence markers and how far apart should they be?
Answer: Clip the markers on the top wire of the fence at approximately three-foot intervals.

4. What about predator perch-deterrents? Are those a good idea to add to a fence-marking project?
Answer:  Yes. Classic wood fence posts make great perches for ravens and other raptors that prey on sage grouse near leks. To deter large birds from perching but not the songbirds, either pound in a tall spike on the top of the wood post,  or you can order perch deterrents from our partner Nixalite of America at a discount. (See this article, featuring Nixalite products being used in the field: Bi-State Sage Grouse News: Three federal agencies, public come together on fence marker project to prevent sage grouse mortalities (Feb. 11, 2014).

5. How can I make fences wildlife-friendly for other species too?
We have the guide for you!  You can download the Landowner’s Guide to Wildlife-Friendly Fences (authored by Christine Paige). We have two versions on our website: Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks guide and  the Wyoming version.

6. Where do I find helpful resources in general on the Sage Grouse Initiative website?
Visit the home page of www.sagegrouseinitiative.com and click on NEWS and RESOURCES. From the pull-down menu, choose RESOURCES.


Double-marking fences with a white and a black marker next to each other is a good idea near high-elevation leks, where sage grouse start their courtship dance in spring when snow is still on the ground (black shows up against the snow). See Pexco for order information for the black markers. (photo by Tom Healy)


Montana Fence Marking Partnership Sign. Partners may want to make a sign like this one to put up at a project to interpret what the markers are for and to thank partners. (courtesy of Bruce Waage, MT NRCS-BLM liaison for sage grouse)


Montana rancher Dave Bequette shows a “perch deterrent” spike driven into a fence post, as part of a fence-marking project. (Photo: Deborah Richie, SGI)


The Sage Grouse Initiative is a partnership-based, science-driven effort that uses voluntary incentives to proactively conserve America’s western rangelands, wildlife, and rural way of life. This initiative is part of Working Lands For Wildlife, which is led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.