A shocking bear prevention tool

The latest in a series of ecology-related articles by Recreation, Fish and Wildlife students at Selkirk College in Castlegar

Courtenay Ferguson (left) and Sarah Fassina are second-year Recreation

For a long time ranchers have been using electric fences to confine livestock so they won’t go looking for greener pasture. But how about keeping hungry predators out? With a similar system but with a stronger kick, electric fencing is now considered a more effective strategy to help us to keep hungry bears out of our backyards.

In the Kootenay’s, bears are a common sight especially to residents who have fruit trees or gardens. The problem here is that bears are becoming accustomed to these human-populated areas, knowing they will be able to get an easy meal. Whether you have animals, a garden or compost, electric fencing is a shockingly simple, cost friendly, and effective way to prevent and discourage bears from coming onto your property.

An electric fence can be set up as a permanent or temporary structure. A few posts in the ground and a couple of bare wires going from post to post and hooked up to an electrical source. The electricity can come from a battery, a regular electrical outlet, or even from a solar panel, which would be the most environmentally friendly option. The fence functions like an open circuit in which electric pulses are sent to the wires. The moment the bear touches a charged wire, the circuit closes and the animal gets shocked. Since bears are fast learners, you can be sure they’ll understand that it’s better to find food somewhere else than risk being shocked again.

This is an important point; bears will learn where to go and where not to go. Another option to deal with problem bears is to remove them. If you remove the problem bear, soon enough there will be another bear to take its place. Teaching a bear means you don’t have to worry about the problem returning, you have an educated resident bear that will keep any other new bears out of the area and keep them from going after what you have behind the electric fence.

A homemade electric fence is an investment of $350 to $500, depending on size, that is cost effective to protect our goods as well as the bears. It’s fairly straight forward to set up and relatively easy to maintain. According to Bear Aware and electric fencing specialist Gillian Sander, although it is relatively easy to set up, it is very important to install it properly.  An improperly installed fence will allow a bear to avoid the shock or provides an ineffective shock.  For this reason, help and advice are available from many of the electric fence suppliers as well as the Bear Aware experts in your area.

People are starting to change their attitudes towards dealing with wildlife, being proactive instead of reactive. Gillian feels folks in Creston and Kaslo have learned to automatically install an electric fence as soon as they decide to have fruit trees or animals. Bear Aware specialist Joanne Siderius offers electric fence loaners to Nelson residents so they can familiarize themselves with this system. Since electric fencing has demonstrated to be so effective and affordable, all the communities in the Kootenays should consider it as a realistic option to stop tempting the bears with our backyard succulents.

For more information and contacts visit www.bearaware.bc.ca where you will find a list of electric fence suppliers and easy-to-follow instructions on how to set up a functional electric fence.

Courtenay Ferguson and Sarah Fassina are second year Recreation, Fish and Wildlife students at Castlegar’s Selkirk College.

Just Posted

Castlegar council set to rule on three retail cannabis proposals

Residents have until Dec. 27 to comment on the business proposals

West Kootenay police take 18 impaired drivers off the road

Eight drivers were criminally impaired, says Sgt. Badry from West Kootenay Traffic Services

West Kootenay highways a mess as heavy snowfall continues

‘Roads are very icy, people have to be patient and have to slow down’

Nelson-area man wants trapping laws changed after dog killed

Louis Seguin’s 10-month-old Australian shepherd died in a body-gripping trap last month

Snowfall warning across the West Kootenay

A strong Pacific frontal system had Environment Canada issuing a snowfall advisory early Tuesday

Man caught on camera allegedly trying to defraud ICBC

Auto-insurer warns B.C. drivers to record info after crashes

Warning issued as forecast calls for 20-foot waves in Tofino

Dangerous waves, strong currents and upper-shoreline flooding expected for Tofino-Ucluelet area

An 800-pound pig named Theodore needs a forever home, B.C. society says

‘Theodore is not destined to be somebody’s bacon’

2,000 Canadians died of an overdose in first 6 months of the year

New data from the Public Health Agency of Canada shows the crisis is not subsiding

Teenager Alphonso Davies wins Canadian Men’s Soccer Player for the Year Award

Derek Cornelius and Chilliwack native, Jordyn Huitema were named Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

B.C. teen MMA fighter shows heart

Young Unity MMA competitors bring home Ws

Another B.C. city votes to ban single-use plastic bags

First six months of proposed ban would focus on education, not enforcement

UK Prime Minister Theresa May wins party no-confidence vote, but troubles remain

May won the vote of 317 Conservative legislators with a 200-117 tally

B.C. trustee’s anti-LGBTQ comments got him barred from schools

Barry Neufeld calls vote to leave him off liaison list ‘workplace discrimination’

Most Read