Securing available attractants as much as possible is an effective way of preventing bears from visiting in the first place. This can include placing garbage and pet or livestock feed inside buildings or in a bear resistant container or removing fruit from trees or bushes before bears can get to it. A properly constructed and maintained electric fence can be an effective way of protecting livestock and bee yards from bears. These preventative measures will reduce incidents of loss, property damage and alleviate public safety concerns. It will also reduce the need to remove or kill bears. Click to view or download.
In recent years, the number of bee operations has increased, often into known bear habitat. As a result, interactions between bears and bee keepers are also increasing. There are a number of proactive measures that are recommended to protect bee yards and bee keepers from bears and other animals. Click to view or download.
Bear Conflict Solutions and partners are pleased to announce the completion of the 25-minute documentary Living with Wildlife.
“The idea for this project came after Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) held the Western Black Bear conference in Canmore and toured the visiting biologists from all over North America to see our garbage systems, attractant management program, highway fencing and crossing structures and wildlife corridors. They were just amazed at what we’d been able to accomplish in the Bow Valley,” says Jay Honeyman, Human Wildlife Conflict Biologist for AEP.
“This film was a great collaborative effort to showcase all the innovative programs that exist in the Bow Valley in order for people and wildlife to coexist.” Says local filmmaker Leanne Allison, “I’m super excited to share it with our community before we take the film to a wider audience.”
The film illustrates how there is a culture around living with wildlife in the Bow Valley, described as the busiest place in the world where people and grizzly bears continue to coexist. The film also takes a realistic look at the challenges and the constant pressures wildlife face.
“The film shows how a kind of paradigm shift needs to happen with recreation in the valley. People need to be aware of seasonal wildlife sensitivities and plan their activities accordingly. Last summer was a great example of how bears needed space because the buffalo berry crop was so good,” says John Paczkowski, Ecologist with AEP, “there were many bear closures during that time and for the most part people respected them. People realized it was much easier for them to accommodate bears at that time of year rather than the other way around.”
The Bow Valley is the busiest place in the world where people and grizzly bears still coexist. ‘Living with Wildlife’ is the story of how communities in the Bow Valley of Alberta, Canada have come together over the past 20 years to live with grizzly bears and other wildlife.
Partners on this project include The Calgary Foundation, Town of Canmore, Alberta Environment and Parks, Yellowstone to Yukon, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and a handful of private donors.
Exciting news! Bear Conflict Solutions has partnered with Bow Valley filmmaker Leanne Allison to create an exciting new film that highlights how the Bow Valley is Living with Wildlife. The film documents the numerous wildlife mitigation projects that have occurred over the years in the Bow Valley including the creation of wildlife corridors, highway fencing and crossing structures, aversive conditioning, renowned educational programs and attractant management programs that include community bear proof garbage containers, and wildlife attractant bylaws and attractant removal.
Check out how the Bow Valley continues to find ways to “live with wildlife” through collaboration and innovation. Here is the Living with Wildlife trailer and look for the main film to be shared publicly in March 2017.
Bears and other animals will often rub up against trees. Some researchers believe they are marking , or communicating , their presence to other animals. Bears are particularly keen to do this .
Check out this video of bears rubbin’.
Thanks to Tim Manley , Montana Fish wildlife and Parks for this footage.
In June 2016 , landowners west of Cochrane began experiencing grizzly bear problems, specifically bears were accessing bee yards and chicken coops.
Bear Conflict Solutions assisted one landowner who had her chickens killed by a grizzly bear by erecting an electric fence around the chicken coop. Find out how you can secure your chickens from bears.
As of November, 2016 , there have not been any recorded incidents of conflict at this site.
Bear Conflict Solutions assisted the C5 Ranch, east of Chain Lakes in Southern Alberta, erect a 6 strand electric fence on 55 acres to protect their herd of goats (as described in the second Waterton Biosphere Reserve report on Large Carnivore Attractant Management Projects in Southwestern Alberta 2013-2014).
Janice and Kelly Cornforth
Chain Lakes, Alberta
Janice and Kelly Cornforth manage the C5 ranch, east of Chain Lakes Recreation Area and northeast of Bob Creek Wildland Provincial Park in parkland and open grasslands. The high hills behind their home provide habitat for moose, elk, deer, and a whole suite of large carnivores, as well as grazing cattle and goats. Yes, goats.
“Saying you have goats in a ranching community is kind of like saying you have a social disease,” says Kelly. “The goats are here for brush and weed control. We’re trying to control larkspur because it’s really prevalent here and has killed a lot of cattle; in six years we’ve probably lost no less than 15 to 20 head of cows. And it’s a watershed, so I don’t want to do a bunch of spraying. Cattle loss to larkspur has been substantial enough to try something new.”
Goats have been on the C5 Ranch since 2012. “[People] keep telling us our goats are really healthy because we have triplets and quadruplets,” explain Janice and Kelly. “It’s a pretty good life for a goat because all their [preferred foods] don’t get grazed. We don’t have to worm them because they eat so much bark.” Unlike sheep and cattle, which are grass grazers, goats target weeds, woody material, shrubs, and plants that are lethal to livestock, such as larkspur. “If it meant surviving,” says Kelly, “I think goats would eat windshield wipers.”
The boer-cross goats are kept purely as weed and brush control and to keep aspen and poplars at bay. The Cornforths do not milk their goats and aside from the billies (males), they don’t get sold at market. In addition to running a year-round goat herd, the Cornforths manage a commercial cattle herd for C5 Ranch and raise working ranch/cow horses.
Attractants and Conflict Risk
“We knew there were always grizzly bears in the valley but we’d never had any issues,” says Kelly. “For a long time, the coyotes were the only things that would hassle the goats and the guardian dogs could handle them. The cougars don’t seem to be an issue. And we don’t have the wolf numbers in here yet that they do just west.” But since goats have settled into C5 Ranch, bears have started coming in closer to the Cornforth home and outbuildings – and staying. In the summer of 2013, the Cornforths estimate they lost 20 head of goats. Of those, one was confirmed as a predator kill. “The government sent us a cheque for thirty dollars. It probably wasn’t even worth the stamp to send the cheque,” reflects Kelly. In the current predator compensation program, the valuation mechanism of killed livestock is not as standardized for goats and sheep as it is for cattle (changes made in 2015 have improved this situation). The market value for that goat in the fall would have been anywhere between $100-130 per head.
The Cornforths have also experienced depredations on their cattle. “[Fish and Wildlife] decided it was a bear [kill] on one calf. The other they confirmed it was a kill but they couldn’t decide who got it first, bear or wolf. The skull was crushed and the holes in the hide were in all the spots for both of them. They just said it was confirmed.” Neighbours have also had confirmed grizzly bear kills as well. “As far as predation goes, the thing that’s worked for us is we [are] out in the cattle at least every other day. We’ve established a presence not [just] for the sake of predation but [also] for the sake of knowing what’s going on with our cows.”
The Cornforths take advantage of the Deadstock Program with free on-site pickup. “We never had a lot of dead issues. We have a smaller number of cattle so the odd one that would die, we would take it as far up on the hill as possible so that [the predators] could stay away from us. I don’t like the idea of a dead pile; it is basically bait.” Asked whether they’ve noticed a difference in large carnivore traffic since using the Deadstock Program, Kelly says, “I think the only difference is the population or the influx of bears is a lot more now, regardless of what we’ve done. I think what we’ve done has certainly kept it from being an issue around the buildings and a place [predators] can all congregate.”
The spring of 2013 “was like the beginning of things to come,” reflects Kelly. On separate occasions, several grizzly bears were seen in their barn-side pens with goat kids in their mouths. One night Kelly was charged by a sow grizzly while trying to get her to leave.
Jeff Bectell, of the Waterton Biosphere Reserve, contacted the Cornforths about an electric fencing project to keep bears, as well as coyotes and wolves, out of their goat pens and pastures. Kelly appreciated the outreach. “In this situation we knew bears were living up [in the hills] so we needed something big enough and permanent. There were guardian dogs with the goats but it didn’t seem to matter. So [the electric fence would] take a little pressure off the guardian dogs and eliminate conflict,” says Kelly.
The Cornforths worked with WBR to design a six-strand fence to contain 55 acres of goat pasture. Instead of adding all new wires to existing sections of fence, they used three strands of existing barbed wire for the “ground” wires and added three strands of stranded cable for the “hot” wires (Figure 14). In places that had old barbed wire fence, they replaced the posts and barbed wire. To provide power to the large fence, they hooked up a 110-volt charger to plug-in electrical service.
Installing the fence took almost a month; planning where to put the fence took an equally long time. “Understanding the plan didn’t take long because we talked to the right people. But you have to think about where is the best place to put [the electric fence] for snow drifting, creeks, trees falling down,” says Kelly.
So far, the Cornforths are happy with the electric fence. “The things that it can’t do, I didn’t think it could. When the snow drifts up, I never expected it to be able to handle that. But it’s a good design. It’s not cheap and it isn’t simple but it’s good,” says Kelly. Time to maintain the fence is “a little bit more than we thought. When [moose or deer jump over and] break the top wire it wraps around the barbed wire so it takes two people to fix it,” says Janice. Despite the higher maintenance, the Cornforths hope to electric fence another, larger section of land that needs brush and larkspur control. This would improve cattle pasture and also give goats more space to graze. “Our primary focus is cattle and horses,” say Janice and Kelly. With the addition of the electric fence, they can now spend less time worrying about goats.
For more information about ranching and conflict mitigation projects, visit the Waterton Biosphere Reserve website.
Bear Conflict Solutions has been working with landowners and other interested parties including Alberta Bear Smart, SALTS, and the Waterton Biosphere Reserve. BCS has provided expertise and financial support toward over half a dozen workshops to ranchers and acreage owners in southern Alberta over the last few years. One of the key results stemming from these workshops is the recognition that bear spray can be an effective tool during interactions with bears and other wildlife. Click to view this report about Efficacy of Bear Deterrent Spray.
Calgary Herald: Ranchers learn how to deal with bears and wolves in Alberta’s foothills
June 18, 2016
BAR U RANCH — One by one, residents and landowners in Alberta’s foothills grabbed a can of inert bear spray and practised spraying it at a wood cut-out of a bear about five metres away.
The lesson was part of a bear safety workshop held for about 50 area residents on Friday.
“It’s nice to come and get some instruction,” said Wendy Dunn, a Calgarian who lives with her husband, John, in the Porcupine Hills.
They’ve seen a lot of black bears and cougars, and their neighbours have seen grizzlies on their property.
It’s a new reality in ranching country east of the Rockies in the past decade, leading to increasing conflicts between landowners and large carnivores in recent years.
CBC Calgary: Alberta ranchers brush up on bear safety during workshop
July 21, 2015
Farmers and ranchers in southern Alberta have been seeing more bears in recent years and a workshop has been designed to help them deal with the encounters.
A key part of the workshop is learning how to use pepper spray effectively.
Children as young as eight are included in the training.
Alberta Parks spokesperson Jay Honeyman says they have run the workshop several times and it is paying off.
Every year in Canada bears come into conflict with people by coming into developed areas in search of natural and unnatural food. The bears begin to learn that developed areas can be a source of food which increases interactions between bears and people and creates a public safety concern and potential property damage. These interactions can also result in the bear being relocated or destroyed.
Fruit bearing trees and shrubs are one example of an unnatural food that bears and other wildlife are attracted to. Several local communities in Alberta in conjunction with Alberta Bear Smart and Eagle Lake Nurseries have created a list of trees and shrubs that are non fruit bearing yet still produce beautiful flowers seasonally. The Towns of Canmore, Lac Des Arcs and Blairmore have recently planted non fruit bearing trees and shrubs in their communities. Bear Conflict Solutions has provided financial support for these projects.
Proactive Livestock Management
Livestock depredation by carnivores such as bears, cougars and wolves is a major concern for agricultural producers in Alberta. Between 2009 and 2012, over 1/3 of all grizzly bear relocations have been as a result of bears attacking livestock. See Grizzly Bear Conservation in Alberta Annual Reports. There are preventative actions one can take to reduce the chances of bears attacking livestock. One example is the use of electric fence.
In 2012 Bear Conflict Solutions (BCS) partnered with a landowner in southern Alberta to try and prevent grizzly bears from predating on his ranched elk. This rancher had lost 15 elk over a two year period to grizzly bears. The bears had learned to dig under his 8 foot high elk fence. This situation became a losing proposition for grizzly bears as well as 4 different bears were trapped and relocated from this property. In discussions with officials from Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD), electric fence was identified as a potential proactive solution to this problem. As a result, the landowner took the initiative to erect a single strand electric fence around his 3 mile stretch of fenced elk corrals. BCS agreed to provide some financial support towards the project. The fence was completed in the summer of 2012 and there have been no grizzly bear incidents since that time.
Attractant Management 2012
Unsecured attractants are a major concern for residents living and working in bear country. In southwest Alberta, livestock feed continues to be a main cause of human bear conflict. It is often the result of inadequate grain storage such as grain sheds with holes in the walls/doors or faulty doors on metal grain bins. There are systems in place to address these deficiencies.
In 2012, Bear Conflict Solutions (BCS) partnered with Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) and a southern Alberta rancher to address the continuing problem of bears accessing unsecured grain on his property. This area had seen a number of grizzly bears accessing unsecured grain resulting in the relocation of at least two grizzly bears over the last few years. BCS, in partnership with ESRD and the landowner, purchased a used sea canister to secure the grain. The landowner covered the costs of picking up the container and retrofitting it to meet his needs. The end result is a secure grain bin that has resulted in no grain-related human–bear conflict since the container was installed in July 2012.
Greater Yellowstone Coalition along with Bridger Teton National Forest in Montana have started using the retrofitted shipping canisters based on information and advice about this program. Click to read this story, Turpin, Pacific Creek get bear-proof boxes, in the JH News and Guide. Additional requests for containers have been received as well as information requests from Montana State Parks for issues with black bears they’ve had on the Smith River. Good ideas are spreading.