Bear Aware: Shocking solutions to deter foraging bears

With the local food movement taking off, we are starting to see an influx of urban chickens, gardens and fruit trees.

Sightings in and around our communities:

-No sightings in Invermere or Radium were reported to the RAPP line last week.

With the local food and sustainable living movement taking off, we are starting to see an influx of urban chickens, gardens, composts, beehives and fruit trees. With all the possible benefits of growing your own food, there is also a potential increase of attracting wildlife to our communities.

There are easy solutions to avoid attracting bears, deer and/or sheep to our backyards. Picking fruit as it ripens and cleaning up windfall daily is essential for fruit trees. But what can we do to protect our chickens, gardens and beehives? Solution: electric fencing!

Electric fencing is an affordable, easy solution to deter bears and other wildlife attempting to eat our food. Electric fencing has the power to keep black and grizzly bears out of landfills, chicken coops, apiaries, gardens, campsites, and just about anywhere else you don’t want bears to go.

An electric fence acts like an open circuit, with repeating pulses of electricity. Proper installation and maintenance of an electric fence is a necessity. You can install a permanent electric fence for chicken coops and beehives, or portable electric fences for temporary protection, during calving or fruit season. If properly installed with a pulsating charge, although it may be unpleasant to bears, pets or humans, it will not do any permanent damage. Warning signage can be used to notify people of your e-fence. Bears are very smart and it may only take them one shock to be taught a valuable lesson to leave your chicken coop, garden or fruit tree alone.

At the Community Greenhouse on Sunday (June 24) from 4 to 6 p.m., Gillian Sanders from the North Kootenay Lake Bear Smart Program will be hosting an electric fencing workshop sponsored by the Columbia Basin Trust. Gillian has helped to install 40 electric fences of various designs to successfully protect fruit trees and livestock from both black and grizzly bears.

Following this workshop will be an open house at the Community Greenhouse at 7 p.m. with booths about bears, electric fencing, composting, distilling and growing local food, with even a live chicken to see. Refreshments and snacks will be provided.

To report a bear sighting or incident call the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277. For more information on Bear Aware contact: Crystal Leonard, Bear Aware Community Co-ordinator at 250-688-0561 or or For more solutions, check out the Bear Aware website at

BC Conservation Foundation’s Bear Aware gratefully acknowledges funding by the Columbia Basin Trust, the Ministry of Environment, and the communities of Invermere and Radium.