Bears continue to kill sheep in Metchosin, farmers growing frustrated

WatchFor many years, bear attacks on livestock had been kept to a minimum in Metchosin, but now it appears they're making themselves right at home, much to the dismay of sheep farmers.

John Buchanan has been a sheep farmer for over 50 years, and up until recently, he never had to deal with bears.

But his situation has changed. He said since 2012, more and attacks have occurred, and now there’s a hungry predator roaming around Metchosin.

“Right now, there’s a particularly busy bear. He’s getting one every couple of days from various farmers in the community.” Buchanan, the owner of Parry Bay Sheep Farm, said

Buchanan woke up to find another one of his sheep killed this morning. He’s now lost 13 this year. Each is worth around $300.

“It’s a darn nuisance because it makes it hard for us to keep the sheep on pasture. We have to have them on pasture for it to work as a business,” said Buchanan.

Bears sightings in Metchosin haven’t been uncommon this year, especially in the Kangaroo Road neighbourhood where several of Buchanan’s pastures are located.

In June, there were reports of chickens being killed and even a dog attack. Wildlife experts say it was only a matter of time.

“We were really lucky I think for a long time in Metchosin where the bears weren’t going for our livestock. So having them out in large fields without an electric fence around them was a viable option for farmers,” said Sam Webb of Wild Wise Metchosin,  a wildlife advocacy group.

“But they’re going to go for the easier meal and if that means our unsecured garbage or even our livestock then that’s what they’re going to go.”

For Buchanan, who has 30 pastures and roughly 900 sheep, keeping them all the animals safe is not possible.

“We have maybe 10 miles of fence. To build and maintain an electric would be astronomically expensive.” Buchanan said.

The BC Conservation Service says it is aware of the issue but were unable to provide an interview Friday.

So far no bears have been euthanized in Metchosin in 2020.

Ben NesbitBen Nesbit

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