‘Whole trees are empty’: animals feast on Kelowna apple orchard, costing thousands

Click to play video: 'Elk devastate Okanagan apple orchard' Elk devastate Okanagan apple orchard
With the fruit growing season approaching, it's a devastating discovery for a Kelowna apple grower. He returned from vacation to find his orchard wasn't in its original condition. Jules Knox reports on what happened, and how he's dealing with the damage – Mar 23, 2018

It was a devastating find for an apple orchardist who returned from a month-long vacation to find his land decimated by wildlife.

“Whole trees are empty… there are no buds in there. They ate all the buds and stuff, and I don’t know what to do,” orchard owner Surjit Nagra said.

Part of the eight-foot back fence protecting the orchard was trampled to the ground, and apple trees were ripped from their roots.

“We’ve had our farm for over 15 years here, and we’ve never had a situation this serious,” said Gurpreet Nagra, Surjit’s son and a summertime helper in the orchard.

“With the fences being torn, and all of the trees getting ripped out and all of the buddings being damaged, it was devastating,” he added.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Robert and the giant peach: a Kelowna tale

The family believes elk are the culprits.

“Just from walking through the farm and seeing all the elk droppings around here, and then with the damage that was done with them ripping the deer fences down and ripping trees out, I feel like it would be a bigger animal than a deer,” Gurpreet said.

The family suspects the animals weren’t spotted causing damage because it happened in winter, when snow covered the back of their land.

They also think the elk might have been visiting at night.

READ MORE: Kelowna coyote goes to new heights to satisfy cherry craving

The family believes they’ll lose most of their 21-acre orchard’s normal yield this year.

“In 2016 I had a $185,000 crop, but now I don’t think I have more than $10,000-$15,000,” Gurjit said.

“We’re losing out on a lot of money because you have to replant there, then you don’t get harvest on those trees for three to five years,” Gurpreet said.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: WATCH: Crop damage in the millions

Nagra believes his insurance, which primarily covers weather-related problems, won’t cover the damage.

The government said orchardists who have suffered a loss should contact the agriculture ministry, which looks at each situation on a case by case basis.

Sponsored content