How to Keep Bears Away From Backyard Chickens
Several coops attacked by bears recently
ANCHORAGE - For many backyard chicken farmers the birds are more than just their egg suppliers, they’re like family.
“These are the single ladies, they all have names,” said Laura Kruger, who keeps six chickens at her home in Eagle River. “They're definitely egg chickens and they're pets,”
That’s why her chickens are protected by chain link, chicken wire and an electric fence.
“For me I feel good that my chickens are protected but I also feel good that, in a sense, I'm protecting the bears too. I don't want them to get shot over our chickens, so we're trying to be as responsible as we can,” said Kruger.
She’s got five electrified lines, which is what Fish and Game recommends, especially after a recent rash of bear break-ins in the Hillside neighborhood. One chicken coop was hit once Wednesday night and again Thursday morning.
Wildlife biologists say it’s not just an easy chicken dinner that keeps bears coming back into town.
“The other very disappointing thing is that when we were patrolling last night—I'm assuming trash day for a lot of parts of Hillside was this morning—because at 9 o'clock last night I counted a lot of unsecured trash cans on the curb. That was disappointing and discouraging as well,” said biologist Jessy Coltrane.
While electric fencing can be costly, Kruger says the peace of mind is worth it.
“If you're not willing to make the investment, the couple hundred dollar investment, you shouldn't get chickens. You know we are in Alaska, this is bear country. It's their habitat and we're just part of it. So if you're not going to take the precautions to secure your chickens, then don't get the chickens. Just buy your eggs at the store.”
The Anchorage Assembly is currently rewriting the land use code that allows people to keep backyard chickens. Assemblymember Debbie Ossiander says instead of letting chickens be free range, the new ordinance could require chickens be kept in a secure enclosure.