out and prevent property damage, as well as ungulate fencing to keep deer away. “Both bears and deer are simply driven by their biology,” notes Owens, adding, “It’s not rocket science.” Such fencing must be maintained too, whether by the owner or by a lessee. “It’s always better to prevent bear conflicts than to have to deal with bears,” he says.

Although there is a season for hunting bears in August, it won’t solve the problem because if you take one animal, others will immediately move into his range once he’s gone, Owens explains. In late summer and fall, when fruit such as the last cherries, peaches, plums, grapes and apples are ripe and ready to be harvested, bears require 30,000 calories a day in order to go into hibernation or hyperphagia. Their lives are constantly focussed on the search for food sources, and the smell of fruit or honey is a strong attractant. In the end, electric fencing is the answer, he advises.

Electric fencing should carry at least 6,000 watts, with hot wires spaced no wider than eight inches apart. As well, he advises that chicken wire should be attached to the bottom, so it is also electrified, and then buried to

prevent bears from digging under the fence to get in.

Electric fencing for bears needs to provide a nose or face shock to deter bears, who lead with their noses, which are wet and sensitive, advises Gillian Sanders of Kaslo WildSafe B.C. Bears have thick fur which can insulate them, so a significant shock is needed to get the message across.

Bee hives should be kept a minimum of three feet inside the fence. Maintenance is also necessary to ensure the right amount of electricity is kept running through the wires and grass and weeds must be kept away from the wires.

There’s very little risk to pets and children from electric fencing, she says, because energizers are used which have a capacitor which sends energy out on a pulse, so no animal or person can get locked on the fence.

Sanders says electric fences are cost- effective, safe and easy to install. There are also lightweight, portable electric fencing systems that can be set up and working in less than two hours, as well as solar-powered systems that can be installed wherever there’s enough sun to re-charge the batteries, she says. The damage caused by bears to

agricultural operations can include consumption, breakage and damage to fruit, trees and vines, buildings, agricultural supplies and bee hives. As well there’s the loss of productivity due to damage done by bears, advises Zoe Kirk, WildSafeBC community coordinator for the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen. She advises growers that a tidy operation is least likely to attract bears, including the use of secure containers for all garbage and waste.

Kirk suggests keeping a secure buffer zone of cleared brush on the perimeter of the property to create a visible break in bear travel pathways and improve sight lines for workers; flail all remaining fruit after harvesting to reduce opportunistic feeding and make sure compost sites or dump areas are in the furthest areas from possible conflict with humans.

Electric fencing is one tool in the toolbox to help growers deal with problem wildlife, says Owens. “We try to work with growers to help them solve their wildlife problems,” he says. “Dealing with problem wildlife is frustrating for us, but once bears lose their fear of people, they can be dangerous.”




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