Pascale Shaw operates the Rainbow Eggs Farm in the Whonnock community, and said bears have destroyed fences and posts, in addition to reducing her stock of chickens from between 80 and 100 to a single hen and her chicks.
The bears destroyed 30 or 40, she explained, and she hastily sold or gifted the rest.
“They come day and night and they don’t leave us alone,” Shaw told Global News on Friday. “They’ve attacked five different farms on our road.”
Shaw said the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS) is aware of the problem and mounted a camera nearby, reportedly detecting eight bears within 30 minutes. She said the COS never informed her of those results.
She said she learned that information thirdhand and has not been offered any assistance in dealing with the problem.
In an emailed statement, the COS confirmed only that it had received numerous calls about bears accessing livestock, especially chickens, at farms in and around Maple Ridge.
“Conservation Officers are working with area farmers on mitigation techniques to minimize the number of livestock lost to bears and other predators,” it wrote.
“It is not possible for the COS to create predator-free zones. Responsibility rests with farmers to take adequate steps to protect their livestock from wildlife.”
Meanwhile, Shaw said she has put an electric fence around her remaining livestock and is awaiting permits to remove trees so she can fence-in the entire property. She is also guarding the yard with a paintball gun.
“I’m really scared to be out on my own yard,” Shaw said. “We’re scared that nothing is being done to address the influx of bears coming into our community.”
The Rainbow Eggs Farm has two dogs, goats and “guardian llamas,” she added. Bears have never posed such a problem in her 12 years there.
Shaw’s neighbour, Charna Chan, said the bears have paid her multiple visits as well.
She is also guarding her coops with a paintball gun and putting in an electric fence. One bear in particular, however, is now “used to being hit with paintball guns,” meaning that deterrent is becoming less effective.
“She has jumped the fence, tried to get into my main coop but didn’t manage too. She’s teaching the cubs how to do this — I’ve got them on video,” Chan told Global News. “She needs to be relocated or something, because she’s learned that it’s a free meal here and she’s teaching her babies.”
Chan said her property’s cameras have caught the bear spending about an hour trying to get into the coops and successfully chowing down.
“I don’t hate this bear, it’s trying to live. That’s the way it is, but it’s already learned that this area is just too rich in free meals.”
Neither woman wants to see the bears harmed, and don’t believe the intrusion is the bears’ fault.
The COS said it is educating local farmers on best management practices regarding livestock, including how to lock up chickens, use guardian dogs and install electric fencing. It is also conducting proactive outreach to prevent human-wildlife conflicts, and working with the public and farmers to reduce the presence of substances that attract bears, it added.
“The COS is continuing to monitor bear activity in the area and will respond as necessary to ensure public safety,” it wrote.
“There have currently been no reports of aggressive bear behaviour towards people related to these incidents.”
In an emailed statement, the City of Maple Ridge said it has referred concerns about bears in the Whonnock area to the BC COS’ North Fraser Region and advised the public to report all sightings through the COS’ website.