Fish & Game: Chicken Owners “Irresponsible”


The following is portion of an article from the Missoulian:

By Tristan Scott

WHITEFISH – More grizzly bears are keying in on unprotected chicken coops in western Montana, with increasingly deadly consequences – both for the bears and the pilfered poultry.

The rise in bear-related chicken raids is ruffling the feathers of state and federal wildlife managers who are forced to move or kill bears that receive a food reward, be it from a trash can, a fruit orchard or a bird pen. The conflicts are entirely avoidable, managers say, but it’s the responsibility of landowners to buck the disturbing trend.

“Chickens have become a real pain,” said Chris Servheen, Montana’s grizzly bear recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We’re seeing a lot of people who are just being irresponsible. They want to have chickens in bear country, and then when they get bears they want Fish and Game to come fix a problem they created. The only way to fix the problem is by preventing it from happening in the first place, before the bear gets the food reward. It’s really a sad state of affairs when the bear managers are picking up the pieces.”

Servheen and other managers are encouraging landowners to build electric fences around chicken coops and other attractants, like sweet corn, vegetable gardens, fruit orchards and beehives. The fences are cheap and when constructed properly will deter even the craftiest bears.

“We have found that when people put up a good fence around orchards, gardens, beehives, chicken coops, it is a very good deterrent,” said Tim Manley, bear management specialist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “Bears respect the electric fence, and if you get a good hot fence bears will stay away.”

Late last month, Manley trapped and relocated two grizzly bears that killed about 100 chickens at a residence near Lake Five, several miles from West Glacier. An adult female grizzly and yearling male killed the chickens – mostly chicks – over a period of two nights, Manley said.

With help from FWP, the landowners installed an electric fence around their chicken pen and a nearby rabbit pen, a step Manley said will dramatically reduce the chance of another encounter.

“The bears just don’t come near the fences,” he said.

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Source:  Missoulian

Posted by Haylie Shipp


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