Workshop offers tips on bear-smart fences

Homeowners can have their apples, gooseberries, chickens and honey and eat it too, even in bear country. You don't have to sacrifice household agriculture because of the very real concern over bear conflicts.

Prince George and Vanderhoof both have high populations of bears interfacing with humans at virtually every corner of the respective municipality. Each will get a visit from Gillian Sanders of an organization called Grizzly Bear Coexistence Solutions, a B.C. agency that specializes in keeping crops and critters separate from each other.

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"The workshop focuses on effective fence designs to benefit food producers and to keep bears out of trouble," said Sanders.

"I don't sell anything or promote any one brand of electric fencing for bears. I simply educate on how to install effective fencing to protect chicken coops, bee yards, fruit trees, small livestock, and even carcass disposal areas from grizzly and black bears."

Sanders will deliver a workshop on Friday evening in Prince George and Saturday morning in Vanderhoof to map out the options.

Prince George's Conservation Officer Service is one of the proponents of the workshops. Sgt. Steve Ackles said Sanders' organization "has helped install more than 200 electric fences to successfully protect livestock and crops from black and grizzly bears. She has excellent knowledge for bee keepers, people with backyard fruit trees, whatever attractants might draw in the bears."

The workshop will discuss a variety of options, like permanent fences versus temporary fences and plug-in fences versus off-grid fences powered by alternative electricity sources.

Pitfalls and common errors will also be examined, after years of tracking the fences that have been installed with the help of the organization.

Sanders will also be open to discussing your specific fencing options at your property.

The event in Prince George takes place Friday at the Spruce City Wildlife Association headquarters (1384 River Rd.) from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The event in Vanderhoof takes place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Braeside Community Hall (17908 Braeside Rd.).

These events are free of charge to attend.

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