B.C. Conservation suggests installing electric fences, getting guard dogs and locking flocks up at night to avoid losing another one to predators such as bears. (Facebook/Parry Bay Sheep Farm)

B.C. Conservation suggests installing electric fences, getting guard dogs and locking flocks up at night to avoid losing another one to predators such as bears. (Facebook/Parry Bay Sheep Farm)

Metchosin farmers lose sheep to bear attacks

B.C. Conservation hasn’t euthanized any bears in Metchosin this year

In 30 years of being a sheep farmer in Metchosin, Brent Donaldson was lucky enough to avoid having his flock killed by cougars, dogs or bears. July 4 his luck ran out.

That Saturday, he found two dead ewes in a pasture in the Morlan Road and Rocky Point Road area. A week later on July 12, his wife was heading to their barn when she came across a group of skittish sheep who couldn’t wait to leave their fenced area. They shuffled aside to reveal a six-month-old lamb that had been killed. Bears are the likely predator.

“It seems like sheep are turning into a delicacy. While deer can run off, our sheep’s whole existence is due to not having predators. It feels like we’re sitting ducks waiting for the next attack to happen,” said Donaldson.

John Buchanan, owner of Parry Bay Sheep Farm, says he’s also lost three recently. As a Metchosin resident since 1969, he’s dealt with cougars, dogs and bears attacking his livestock. His worst year was 2017 when he lost 65 sheep.

“When these attacks happen, we have to consider to stop using certain fields with bushy areas because it opens the risk for bears to sneak on the property.

“When we can’t use our pastures, it tightens our resources,” Buchanan said.

READ MORE: Bear attacks Rottweiler near Matheson Lake in Metchosin

When bears get “particularly bad” conservation officers will try catching them. B.C. Conservation has been known to set traps, place cameras on the property or use dogs to track their scent. According to C.O. Sgt. Scott Norris, most bears don’t return to their kills, compared to cougars that come to feed at least once or twice after a previous kill.

Norris confirmed a bear was in the area due to scat left behind. During the summer months, scents can disappear quickly which makes it hard for dogs to track the elusive hunters.

“We can’t be there to protect livestock 24/7 because this area will always have bears and cougars. We’re not going to eradicate them from Metchosin because while we have a duty to protect public safety, the same thing applies to wildlife species’,” said Norris.

Norris said no bears have been euthanized in Metchosin in 2020.

RELATED: B.C. Conservation kills bear in Langford amid growing problem of habituation

Conservation has suggested getting guard dogs, installing electric fencing or locking them up at night, which Donaldson and his wife Shelley have done. Each night, they move their nine remaining sheep in with the pigs and horses, as they’ve already built electrical fencing for those livestock.

But Buchanan says the sheer amount of fencing needed for all his properties would take a large chunk out of their bottom line.

“It’s financially impossible for sure. We would have endless miles of fencing to install. Metchosin can only do so much, as this is a problem the province has to help us solve,” said Buchanan.

While the problem begins with sheep being killed by bears, Norris says it could end with those same bears getting habituated to the neighbourhood and developing a taste for garbage.

“Residents need to be aware of bears in the area and manage all attractants, including garbage, recycling, compost [and] birdseed to keep themselves and their animals safe. There’s unfortunately going to be losses, but we can only do so much.”

ALSO READ: VIDEO: Momma bear spotted with cubs in Metchosin backyard


@iaaronguillen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

aaron.guillen@ goldstreamgazette.com

bearsMetchosin

 

Metchosin resident Brent Donaldson and John Buchanan, owner of Parry Bay Sheep Farm have both lost three sheep respectively due to bears in the area. (Facebook/Parry Bay Sheep Farm)

Metchosin resident Brent Donaldson and John Buchanan, owner of Parry Bay Sheep Farm have both lost three sheep respectively due to bears in the area. (Facebook/Parry Bay Sheep Farm)

Two sheep farms in Metchosin have each lost three sheep to bears in the area. (Facebook/Parry Bay Sheep Farm)

Two sheep farms in Metchosin have each lost three sheep to bears in the area. (Facebook/Parry Bay Sheep Farm)

Just Posted

Elaine Kirwin in her Expedia Cruises office talks about the future of travel. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Sidney travel agency charts course through pandemic

Owner of Expedia Cruises in Sidney expects smooth sailing ahead once travel restrictions lift

Oak Bay Rotary Club member Lorna Curtis takes over as District Governor of Rotary District 5020 on July 1. (Courtesy Lorna Curtis)
Former Oak Bay recreation director goes international with Rotary

Lorna Curtis takes over as district governor on July 1

Police are asking opponents of logging near Port Renfrew not to involve their children following additional arrests Saturday. (Black Press Media File)
Police arrest eight protesters including two minors near Port Renfrew Saturday

RCMP ask parents not to involve their children in Fairy Creek logging protests

Deep Cove Elementary School principal Shelley Hardcastle (right) and vice-principal Mary Kaercher help to restock Reay Creek with fish – in this case, coho fry – after a recent bleach spill killed hundreds of fish. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich’s Deep Cove Elementary School helps to restock Sidney’s Reay Creek

Restocking followed bleach spill that killed hundreds of fish in creek

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read