Should I pack the volt meter?
The best and more likely scenario has the bear touching the polywire with its nose. That moist, bare skin will allow a relatively easy connection - “low voltage required.”
But wild animals are unpredictable. If a furry body part hits the wire, hair will insulate the bear’s skin from the electrical charge. You’ll need more voltage. Pushing through 1/8” (3mm) fur requires about 5,000 V (the generally accepted ‘bare’ minimum rating for a bear fence). However, it takes roughly 6,000 V to shock a Black Bear.
Even so, dry conditions - on the bear and underpaw - can lower this potential. Without moisture, electricity can’t make the leap or get to the ground stake as easily.
To use the volt meter, test the energizer first. Touch the metal clip on the meter to the positive (red) terminal and the probe to negative (black). The meter should blink dimly at 10,000 V in time with a clicking sound from the energizer (we explain this here). The light can be hard to see; best find some shade.
Next, hook the energizer up to the fence: red to the polywire, black to the ground stake. Stab the probe of the voltage tester into the ground as deep as you can and touch the clip to anywhere on the hot line.
If you see much less than 10,000 V, water your ground stake at least.
(Other things to check for optimal performance are reviewed here).