Fencing out the bruins

Electric fences can be a simple and cost effective way to keep native fauna, like bears, out in the wild.

Free electric fencing workshops slated for Saturday in Trail and Rossland

Electric fences can be a simple and cost effective way to keep native fauna, like bears, out in the wild instead of foraging in neighbourhood back yards.

In response to a high number of incidents between bruins and fowl and coyotes and pets, WildSafeBC is hosting two free workshops about electric fencing on Saturday, called “Good Fences Make Good Neighbours.” The first session goes in Trail on Nov. 12 from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. in Room 155 of Selkirk College. The second is slated later that day in Rossland from 2:30-4:30 p.m. in the Second Avenue curling rink.

“Rossland had multiple issues with bears and back yard chickens this fall,” says Desiree Profili, local WildsafeBC community coordinator. “Bears sightings were definitely up this year in both Trail and Rossland for many reasons, early food ripening, low huckleberry crop and an increase in awareness.”

The animals are not yet in hibernation, though sightings are on the down swing.

Compost and fruit trees remain a primary attractant for bears and other animals like raccoons, so electric fences are a good deterrent to avoid interactions even this time of year.

“Electric fences are one of the best options if done right and are proven to work,” said Profili. “There are a set of standards to follow to keep wildlife out as opposed to livestock in, these can be found on the WildSafeBC provincial website,” she added. “They are easy to install and perfectly safe for any yard in any neighbourhood.”

Gillian Sanders from Kaslo WildsafeBC, is leading the workshops. Sanders lends her expertise following a project that involved the installation of 140 electric fences to successfully protect livestock and fruit trees from both black and grizzly bears.

Various electric fencing designs, both permanent and temporary, will be discussed during the sessions.

Those interested are asked call Profili at 250.231.7996, or contact her by email at trail@wildsafebc.com or rossland@wildsafebc.com.

This is the first year Montrose residents have been allowed to install electric fences. After several residents asked to install the fences as a means to field away bears, council removed the electric barriers as “prohibitive” under its zoning bylaw.

Mayor Joe Danchuk has heard from one of those homeowners since, and says it wasn’t just bears that were deterred from the man’s garden.

“I had an older gentleman, his issue was more with domestic cats,” explained Danchuk, mentioning the felines were digging and leaving feces in the soil. “So it’s helped more with that, and it also helps keeping out skunks and rodents.”

Aside from a few cougar and deer sightings, Danchuk emphasized that bears continue to be the village’s number one nuisance.

“The big issue again, is bears,” he said. “Between any garbage left out (and trees) my neighbour has two chestnut trees, well established over 10 to 12 years, the bear would come every night and knock down the branches and eat the chestnuts all the branches are snapped right off.”

Aside from bear and chicken clashes, a few other wildlife species have also been the source of alarm this year.

“There are three instances of small pets being attacked by coyotes in Trail,” noted Profili. “Mostly on the east side of the river, and one on a hiking trail. Montrose and Rossland both recently had cougars sighted.”

She reminds the community that coyotes and cougars remain active all winter, so pets should always be walked on a leash and small children kept at arms length.

WildSafeBC is a program designed to reduce human-wildlife conflict through education, innovation and cooperation. It has evolved out of the highly successful Bear Aware program and is owned and delivered by the British Columbia Conservation Foundation.

Rossland/Trail WildsafeBC reported 11 bears killed in Trail last year, and nine in Rossland the highest number since 2010.

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