Council’s recent approval of the Backyard Chicken Bylaw allowing residents to keep hen as pets and to produce eggs for family consumption is great for local food security and for those who just love the company of chickens.
However, says Bear Aware Coordinator Sue Davies, “we happen to live slap-bang in the middle of some pretty fine bear habitat and bears are no respecters of property lines… unless those lines happen to be drawn with electric fences.
“Thanks to some level heads in Council, the right to keep chickens comes alongside the right to protect your chickens with CSA safety-approved electric fencing.”
Davies said many people mistakenly think bears are not interested in chickens as either take-out or eat-in dinners.
“However, the first time a bear gets into a coop it is often too late,” she said in a statement released on Wednesday, October 14. “Most often it is too late for the chickens, but it is often too late for the bear too. Once it has killed chickens, it usually keeps coming back. If it is a mother bear, she will then teach this behaviour to her cubs. The last thing we need around here is a population of bears that think killing chickens is their best option for food.”
Electric fencing is the most practical way of protecting small livestock from bears — and your average bear from a bullet.
“Yes, a heavy-gauge, steel-framed cage with heavy welded-steel mesh might also protect your chickens,” she said, “but it will cost you an arm and a leg.” Even a stout and well-built wooden coop will not keep a determined bear away from its chicken dinner.
“Far better to string some wires on insulators around your coop, hook them up to a CSA safety-approved electric-pulse generator, and know that your chickens are safe from bears, with the added advantage that bears are safer from being destroyed too,” she said.
“One thing about electric fencing is that it is incredibly important that the fence is properly installed and then maintained. If it is not installed properly, there may be little or no use to having an electric fence.”
If you have checikens or are planning to acquire a flock, you’ll be glad to know that Bear Aware will be hosting a special electric fencing workshop next week to ensure you can set up your fence correctly.
The workshop will be held Tuesdaqy, October 20, at 5 pm in the Macpherson Room of the Community Center. Gillian Sanders, the WildSafeBC coordinator from Kaslo, will be leading the workshop. She has installed more than 130 fences to successfully protect livestock, and travels throughout the province presenting these. Entry is free and tea and cookies will be served but please bring your own mug. Donations to Bear Aware are welcome.
For more information about reducing conflict with bears, including a downloadable electric fencing brochure, please see revelstokebearaware.org. To receive and share valuable local information about bear activity in Revelstoke, please like and follow Bear Aware on Facebook at Facebook.com/revelstokebearaware. To report bear sightings or conflicts with bears please call the 24-hour hotline at 1-877-952 RAPP (7277).
Bear Aware would like to thank Columbia Basin Trust, Habitat Conservation Fund, Kaslo WildSafeBC, CP Rail, Bresco Industries, BC Hydro, Revelstoke Credit Union, Revelstoke Community Foundation, BC Gaming, and Parks Canada for their support of the Bear Aware Program.