Another View: Fences protect wildlife and livestock

Comments on the importance of protecting all animals

You may have seen it online. A moose in a grocery store in Smithers. The bears relocated from Sooke. Or the three cougars killed in Sooke. The latter had a lot of local attention, with over 3,500 people seeing our Facebook posting.

Outrage, sadness and disappointment at killing such a beautiful animal dominated the online response. Interestingly, there seems to be a notable absence of attention given to human responsibility in proactive prevention.

Cougars are not euthanized (or killed or slaughtered or whatever term best suits) because parents are concerned for their children, or because lap-dog owners love their shiatsu, or because people are plain-old mean. Nor are they euthanized by blood thirsty conservation officers (COs) who have nothing better to do than wait for the call to kill.

Cougars are euthanized when they become habituated to a community.  They are predatory animals, and the thought of sharing Sooke’s loosely defined notion-of-a-sidewalk with habituated cougars is an uncomfortable one. Especially when the cougars are hungry and trained to eat what we eat.

Cougars instinctually avoid humans, and rightly so. We’re not that nice, not even to each other. The only reason a cougar comes into our space in the first place is for the ready availability of food when their’s is sparse.

Our first strategy in minimizing human-wildlife conflict is prevention: Stop the cougars from coming into our community in the first place.

Fencing is one idea. Electric fencing is recommended. It keeps livestock safe, and it prevents wildlife from fine (and easy) dining. Ultimately, replacing livestock can be more costly than paying for an electric fence.

Hazing is another. This is where you harass the animal until it decides to move on. It must be continuous, concentrated (ideally where the cougar lives or preys) and caustic (effectively bothersome). A good method of hazing cougar is to get a livestock guard dog, like Great Pyrenees, Anatolian Shepherds, Akbash or Maremma. (Keeping in mind that a dog is a for-life commitment.)

Don’t plant plants that attract deer, an enticing food source for cougar.

And don’t feed your house pets outside, as both (pet food and pets) are also a enticing food source for cougar.

What about relocating?

Relocating a displaced cat is a great idea, but only for a Disney flick. In real life, if you take an old cat who has been displaced from her own territory by a younger, stronger cat, and drop her into another cat’s territory, you have sentenced her to a fight-to-the-death. Same if you do that with her kittens: they will be mauled to death.

Yes (sigh), we are in their territory. Ever since Eve and Adam screwed up horribly and got kicked out of their apartment in the sky, we humans have made a nasty habit of spreading our tendrils. But somehow, culling the human race, as appealing as it may appear at times, strikes me as an unviable option. After all, without a dense human population, who will cover the interest payments and taxes?

The number one takeaway message all of us should be receiving loud and clear from this incident quite simply is: Do not feed the wildlife.

Britt Santowski

Britt Santowski is a reporter with the Sooke News Mirror.

news@sookenewsmirror.com

Just Posted

The orange parcel was bought by the CRD for $1.1 million to add to Mount Work Regional Park. (CRD map)
Capital Regional District expands Mount Work land for $1.1 million

Privately-owned 13.8 hectares in the Highlands is ecologcically valuable

North Saanich has received a report from the Urban Development Institute calling on the municipality to expand and densify its housing options in the face of demographic and environmental changes as the municipality continues its Official Community Plan review. (Black Press Media file photo)
North Saanich asked to create more affordable, diverse housing

Urban Development Institute says community faces demographic, environmental challenges

Dog trainer Sharon Labossiere at play with her dogs. AnimalKind, the BC SPCA’s animal welfare accreditation and referral program, has granted accreditation to Sooke's Hanging with Hounds. (Contributed - BC SPCA)
Hanging With Hounds digs its paws into AnimalKind accreditation

Local dog trainer earns special BC SPCA status

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Royal Bay pride crosswalk restored following graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Colwood high school

Protesters seen here rallying against the injunction order on April 1. (Black Press Media file photo)
RCMP enforce injunction at Fairy Creek blockade

Protesters can remain but police will ensure open access for loggers

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

More “strings of lights” were seen on May 15, 2021, in night sky over Vancouver Island. (File photo)
Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Nathan Zuk had left his mother’s residence in Whaletown on Cortes Island in mid-December 2020 in a 14’ skiff rowboat and headed to an unknown location near the Pryce Channel, Deer passage, or Toba Inlet. Photo courtesy RCMP
RCMP need help finding man who set off from Cortes Island in 14-foot rowboat

Nathan Zuk left in December, may have been last seen in Toba Inlet approximately three weeks ago

Emergency service workers at the collision scene along Highway 4 in Hilliers on Sunday, May 16. A motorcyclist was airlifted to hospital by BC Air Ambulance and later died. (Collin C photo)
UPDATE: Motorcyclist dies from injuries sustained in Mid-Island highway collision

BC Highway Patrol says impairment not a contributing factor in crash

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Most Read