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FWP warns that chickens attract bears

By Kevin Lessard, KCFW Reporter, klessard@kcfw.com
Published On: Apr 26 2014 04:56:16 PM MDT
KALISPELL, Mont. -

Wildlife officials have issued a new warning to chicken farmers after a rise in bear attacks on chickens.  One bear management specialist says that chickens are the new garbage.

Diane Ward and her husband Dick have been raising chickens and sheep in the Flathead for close to 10 years.

A few weeks ago, their chickens had a close call.

"The window was knocked down on the chicken shed and went and looked and all the chickens were there and the glass window had been knocked all the way about 11 to 13 feet from the back of the pen to the front so the grizzly got nothing, he didn't get any of the chickens," said Ward.

The Wards are counting on a new electric fence to do a better job of keeping bears away.

Fish Wildlife and Parks officials say people have learned to be bear aware when it comes to their garbage other animal feed.

But that's driving bears to other potential food, like chickens.

Thankfully for the Wards, their chickens were safe.

But it was a different story a few months ago with some of their sheep.

"A Grizzly came in and jumped over out night time sheep pen.  The sheep run free around on the 20 acres during the day but at night they're penned up and the grizzly jumped over the fence, and pulled out a yew that weighed about 175 pounds, and fed on the carcass in the woods," Ward said.

So for ward, the electric fence has worked.

Ward says she's definitely learned from the experience and with putting up an electric fence like this one, will stop bears from getting to her animals.

"We have to be careful and do not only what protects us and our animals but we have to do what protects them too and just make it not an attractive thing for them to be coming," said Ward.

FWP wants to remind everyone to be smart when it comes to animals and trash on their property, as this is the time of year bears are emerging from hibernation and they'll eat almost anything they can find.