The resolution known as the “Chicken Ordinance” will be open for its public hearing at the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly’s regular meeting Thursday. One of the topics up for discussion is a proposed amendment that’d require electric fences enclose livestock in residential areas to deter bears.
Larry Van Daele, a former biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, suggested this at a past assembly work session. Van Daele says electric fences are a great way to keep bears from eating livestock.
“If an individual bear learns to go after chickens and gets rewarded, it’s going to try it again and again and again. It’s not a matter of all the bears on Kodiak is going to start eating chickens it’s a matter of a few individual bears that we could stop from learning that bad habit.”
Van Daele believes this’ll help keep humans and bears safe. In his time at ADF&G, he says chickens and other livestock often attracted bears. He describes these fences as an investment for the future.
“Electric fences in a way are kind of like seat belts or airbags. You don’t need them for years and years and years, but the one time that you do it really makes a difference.”
Electric fences are relatively safe, according to Van Daele. They’re the same kind farmers use for cattle and horses. He says, if a person touches them, they’ll get a zap, but it won’t do much harm.
He’s not alone in recommending electric fences to people raising animals on Kodiak. The Alaska State Wildlife troopers and ADF&G say they are a good bear deterrent as well.