Whitehorse Daily Star

Bears’ invasions of coops prompt fencing warning

Electric fencing should be installed around chicken coops to prevent conflicts with wildlife, says the manager of conservation officers for Environment Yukon.

By Chuck Tobin on May 31, 2016

Electric fencing should be installed around chicken coops to prevent conflicts with wildlife, says the manager of conservation officers for Environment Yukon.

Ryan Hennings said Monday an officer was called to Spirit Lake late last Saturday night when a grizzly bear got into a chicken coop and killed 20 chickens.

It was the second incident within a month where a grizzly has had to be relocated after it broke into a chicken coop.

The first incident occurred at the Judas Creek subdivision near Marsh Lake, he said.

“We got the call late Saturday night and we caught the bear early Sunday morning,” Hennings said.

“The bear had been in the chicken coop and killed a bunch of chickens, so the expectation is that the bear will be back, so we went out there because that’s what we do.

“Once the bear has been rewarded, he gets those 20 chickens the first time, the expectation was, and rightfully so, he will be back and will continue to come around until they are all gone.”

Hennings said the officer was able to trap the boar fairly quickly early Sunday morning. He then requested the assistance of two more officers to sedate and tag the bear before it was released.

The circumstances were essentially the same in the Judas Creek incident when the young sow killed 10 chickens initially but was trapped soon afterward, the CO manager explained.

In both cases, he added, the bears were taken about 150 kilometres away and released.

Hennings said chicken coop owners should install electric fencing to avoid conflict with bears and other wildlife because without fencing, the odds of having to shoot and kill a wild animal increase.

Even relocating a bear is anything but desirable because the bear then has to fend for itself in unfamiliar territory and perhaps compete for space with other bears, he said.

“It’s a costly endeavour for us, and it is not a perfect thing for the bear.”

Hennings said it doesn’t matter if chicken coop owners live in the middle of Riverdale or remote bush, they should have electric fencing.

The interest by homeowners in raising poultry for eggs and meat is growing noticeably.

As the interest mounts, so does the likelihood of conflict if proper safety measures are not taken, he explained.

Fencing is not that expensive, particularly if the homeowner is on the grid, Hennings said.

The necessary equipment to support systems that run off solar or other forms of renewable energy is a bit more expensive.

Hennings said electric fencing is effective and available locally. It’s the same fencing the Yukon government has been using around community landfills for more than 25 years.

Environment Yukon is trying to raise the awareness around the importance of fencing as an investment in protecting the chickens and preventing conflict, he said.

“We are not just talking bears, we are talking foxes too,” Hennings said.

“We get complaints about foxes getting in, and electric fencing is going to keep them out.”

Hennings said three bears have been shot so far this year – two in the Watson Lake area by conservation officers and one in the Mayo area by a member of the public – though he’s not familiar with the circumstances in each case.

Comments (3)

Up 6 Down 1

Joey Manvilly on Jun 4, 2016 at 12:25 pm

Electric fencing should be mandatory for anyone keeping chickens (city and rural areas).
We live close to wilderness and we have do a few extra things which cost money to avoid killing more bears.

Up 19 Down 4

Max Mack on Jun 2, 2016 at 11:28 am

Bears (amongst other predators) are one of the reasons why I disagree with the push to allow chickens within municipal boundaries. Attraction of predators to chickens is entirely foreseeable.

The inevitable result will be COs killing bears, wolves and other predators.

Up 31 Down 1

westofbelfast on Jun 1, 2016 at 11:07 am

We live in bear country and people with chicken coops need to be told this? They should have raised turkeys instead...if for no other reason than some company!

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