Editorial: Electric fences a necessary deterrent

City of Powell River Council is considering the allowance of electric fences in residential zones, a move that could save the lives of bears that share the area with residents.

People who garden or keep livestock, or rely on their fruit trees for sustenance, have every right to protect what is on their property. Reaping the rewards of a season of cultivation and processing the results is not only satisfying, it saves time and money. The more a person or family harvests from their property, the less time they have to spend at a grocery store.

Safety of the product is the main concern, as protecting bears and other wildlife from pain or death is of utmost importance. Animal rights activists are quick to point out that an electric shock is harmful, and more than a few residents are concerned for the well-being of people who might encounter the fence.

At the city council meeting on Tuesday, July 4, councillor Rob Southcott said the small amount of electrical energy sent through an electric fence results in something like a bee or wasp sting. No one wants to be stung, but in this case, the deterrent might save the life of a bear.

Signs indicating the fence is electrified should be mandatory.

Bears might not be able to read, but they have good memories. Once they establish a food source, bears keep coming back; it is only natural. The more times they come back to a residential property, the more chances there are for a human-wildlife conflict, which may lead to a call to and visit from a conservation officer. What happens next can potentially be a life or death decision regarding the bear.

A sign and the fact that an electric fence would have to be outside of setback areas and not on the property line means someone has to ignore the sign and essentially trespass in order to touch the fence.

If an adult does that, they deserve the sting. Youngsters who cannot yet read should be in the presence of an adult to keep them away, otherwise the bee sting would be the teacher.

Given the choice, wildlife would likely prefer to suffer through a bee sting and decide whether to return to the area, rather than being put down to protect residents of the neighbourhood.

City residents will have the opportunity to debate this case at a future public hearing. Meanwhile, until a bylaw is changed or passed to allow electric fences in residential neighbourhoods, old-fashioned common sense is in play.

Harvest the fruit and do not leave it on the ground, and keep the garbage inside until pickup day. Lives depend on it.

Copyright © Powell River Peak

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