Maple Ridge hobby farmers are not doing enough to prevent human conflict with wildlife.
Especially those located in Whonnock and Websters Corner Area, according to the Conservation Officer Service.
Conservation officer Katelyn Dyck, the Wildlife Safety Response Officer (WSRO) for the Fraser North Zone that includes Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, says since the middle of May there have been nine livestock predation calls within the Whonnock and Websters Corner area – five of which were reported and confirmed livestock predations by a black bear in the area of Websters Corner.
Two of the five attacks were on chickens that were in runs with a coop but no electric fencing.
“Electric fencing is one of the best deterrents for bears when it comes to chickens and other small livestock,” explained Dyck.
The other three attacks involved a miniature donkey, a pig, and rabbits.
Husbandry practices are not being followed, said Dyck. These not only include electrical fencing but: livestock confinement, not allowing livestock out onto a pasture, which Dyck admits might not be feasible for all farmers; adding lighting to a pen or corral – animals, said Dyck, will quickly adjust to the new lighting; tagging or branding their animals for identification; keeping a journal of conflicts; removing livestock and poultry carcasses by burying, incinerating or rendering them; night penning animals in a secure building along with feed; keeping the area surrounding corrals and pens clear of tall vegetation clear to ensure clear sight lines; and playing a radio.
“A big part of my role of a WSRO is to help ensure that the wildlife we are living with stays wild and does not come into conflict,” said Dyck, adding that her job includes conducting attractant audits for areas where they have numerous calls coming in for bears accessing garbage, in addition to talking with campgrounds and the general public about different options to ensure that they are safe while out in the wilderness.
Campers have also been ignoring the rules, said conservation officer Todd Hunter.
Along the Alouette there are a lot of people who boat to the other side to enjoy the outdoors – however, they do not have the right tools to get their food and food waste out of the reach of bears.
“It’s that random type of camping where people are trying to get away from the rules are actually causing a lot of conflict with human wildlife conflict with bears,” said Hunter, noting that there have been “quite a few” conflicts with bears there.
Along Stave Lake, added Hunter, they are dealing with illegal campers, who, he said, are doing nothing to prevent wildlife conflict.
Recently, a bear was seen raiding coolers by an officer who responded with police to the area in the middle of the night and was kicking campers out of a day-use area.
“When they were doing evictions, a bear came out of the bush and started getting into unsecured food and food waste. We’ve had to destroy one of those bears. They were causing so many issues,” said Hunter, noting how unsafe the situation was.
And, he said, people are just not camping safely, leaving food and food waste out, in a lot of the area campgrounds.
“A lot of people, they’re getting out, they want to go and experience camping, but they just are not using any common sense whatsoever,” he said.
More disheartening are the fines for illegal camping. Currently a person can receive a $58 fine. But Hunter warns, if the situation is significant enough, they will look at taking the issue to court, especially if there is damage to the recreation site.
Both Dyck and Hunter are asking people if they are a witness to human conflict with wildlife to call the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277 and provide information on what happened.
“The COS doesn’t know what is happening unless you call,” said Dyck.
Have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.