“Damaging a dead fence” was one of the more curious offences that I came across when I started working on early 19th century records. In my experience fences were inanimate objects. The answer of course was that, in the past, hedges (living fences) would be much more common than man-made ones.
This photo is a rather dramatic example of a “dead” fence being consumed by a living one. Actually, I think that the tree bears more than a passing resemblance to a rhino.