WATCH: A large black bear is believed responsible for killing up to 25 sheep and tracking it is proving difficult. April Lawrence reports.
Lorna Jackson’s flock has been one sheep short the past few weeks ? a ewe she affectionately called ‘Annie Lennox’ was killed by a bear in early July.
“She was mostly gone, all of her shoulder, most of her insides were gone, which is quite different than a cougar kill would have done,” said Jackson, owner of Nine Bark Farm.
She is one of several sheep farmers in Metchosin who have lost livestock in the past six weeks.
“Every couple of days he seems to be getting another one,” said John Buchanan, owner of Parry Bay Sheep Farm.
Buchanan, who has sheep on properties scattered throughout Metchosin, thinks he’s lost 11.
“It’s a time consuming worrisome thing to have them around and not be able to get control of it,” he said.
They had a similar problem last year and the B.C. Conservation Service believes the same bear might be to blame.
“This particular bear has figured out that he can get a lot of protein in a short amount of time and that’s the key to survival,” said B.C. Conservation Officer Sgt. Scott Norris.
While Norris says bears aren’t necessarily predators by nature, they are opportunistic.
“They will go after deer fawn, elk fawn if they can get close enough to them,” he said.
This has been a very busy year for bears on the South Island.
Norris says right now in Metchosin alone he has received reports of two or three causing problems.
One destroyed a bee hive at The Island Lavender Farm Sunday night.
“I would say at this point it was probably completely full of lavender honey, so we’re looking at 50 to 100 pounds of honey,” said farm owner Melanie Penn.
Penn says she knew it was a risk, and will take better precautions next time, something Norris is urging all farmers to do, although he admits it can be difficult.
“Having dogs, keeping the animals in at night in barns, in facilities where bears can’t get to them, or having electrical fences,” Norris said.
They’ve set up multiple traps to try and catch the bear, which seems to mostly be targeting adult females, but since he doesn’t return to his kills, it’s proven unsuccessful.
With a children’s playground next to her farm, and the Galloping Goose trail nearby, Jackson hopes they catch him soon.
Norris says at this point, there’s no reason to believe the bear poses a risk to humans.
“As much as we’re trying to protect public safety and protect livestock, this bear isn’t showing any aggression towards people or any sign of habituation that we know of,” he said.