Increase in Backyard Chickens Leads to More Bears Being Shot
Four have been shot by farmers defending their coops
ANCHORAGE - The number of bears killed in defense of life or property has risen to 16 this summer in the Anchorage bowl. Some bears were shot for getting into garbage or getting too close to people. But a surprising number of bears have been killed for coming too close to backyard chickens.
The number of people keeping chickens at home has risen dramatically since the Anchorage Assembly lifted a ban on backyard birds last year. Most people say they enjoy the fresh eggs and knowing what their chickens are eating. But while there are definitely pleasures associated with the birds, there are also problems. And a big one is attracting bears.
“I don't think a day goes by without somebody I know saying, ‘I got chickens,’” says Fish and Game biologist Jessy Coltrane.
But Coltrane says urban chicken farmers have made her job harder. Just this summer four bears have been shot legally by homeowners defending their coops.
“Most people that I've talked to who have killed bears who have gotten into their chickens are very remorseful about it and they want to know what to do to solve the problem,” says Cotrane. “So what I'd really like to see is people being proactive and solving the problem before they have one.”
Coltrane’s idea of solving the problem is with electric fencing, and not just any electric fence. Coltrane recommends at least four and preferably five electrified lines to keep bears out and chickens in.
“If you take the correct precautions with the correct type of electric fencing and maintain that electric fencing then you shouldn't have to kill bears getting near chickens.”
Coltrane says it is legal in defense of life and property to shoot bears bothering chickens since they are technically considered “property.” But she points out homeowners have an obligation to try every non-lethal means first. She says a good electric fence is the best non-lethal method she knows.