Expert: Don't play chicken with dangerous wildlife

By Jill Sperling
June 15, 2016 - 3:12pm Updated: June 15, 2016 - 7:52pm

KAMLOOPS — The smell of backyard chicken coops might be offensive to some, but it's an attractant to many wild animals living around Kamloops. 

Bears have an especially strong sense of smell, able to sniff out food from over a kilometre away. 

Provincial WildSafeBC coordinator Frank Ritcey cautions raising chickens within city limits could increase the risk for unwanted visitors wandering closer to homes. 

"If you've got an attractant in your yard that's bringing a large omnivore, like a bear, into your yard, that's a dangerous situation," Ritcey said. 

"We would much rather keep the wildlife wild, and our community safe, and anytime that we're providing attractants, whether it's garbage or bird feeders or in this case chickens, it's not safe for the homeowner or for the neighbours in that  neighbourhood."

Other animals, such as weasels, bobcats and coyotes, are also likely to find their way into neighbourhoods where urban hens are being kept. 

Once an animal has had a taste of chicken, it will continue to return until the entire flock is gone.

Ritcey said city council is recommending electric fencing be put up around yards for those raising hens, however, it's not required.

"We've had experience with bears and chickens throughout the province and we've found that it's just a matter of time before bears figure it out and start accessing the chickens," Ritcey said, "but in places where they've used electric fencing we don't have conflicts, so the solution is pretty clear: put up a proper electric fence." 

Ritcey adds information on how to install an electric fence is available on the WildSafeBC website.

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