Bear Trouble on the Homestead

| 8/18/2014 10:21:00 AM

Tags: Grizzly Bears, Black Bears, Chickens, Electric Fence, Homestead, Montana, Fortine, Steven Gregersen,

Mosquito Mountain Montana HomesteadWe sometimes face unusual challenges on our wilderness homestead. For example, a couple of weeks ago we received a phone call from a neighbor down the road about a mile. It seemed a grizzly bear had broken into their chicken house and killed a bunch of their turkeys. Thankfully their chickens and a few of the turkeys managed to escape but still the financial loss was significant. The bear didn't just break through the fence and open the door, it actually ripped the siding off the chicken house. This wasn't the first time either. Just a couple of nights before it had done the same thing to another residence about a mile on the other side of us.

The state Wildlife Department set a culvert trap that the bear tripped and rolled down the hill. Then they set snares that the bear avoided. This bear has probably been in trouble before.

Not wanting the same fate for our 84 recently purchased Cornish Cross chickens, I quickly put up an electric fence around our chicken house.

Homesteaders are used to dealing with skunks, opossums, raccoons, weasels, coyotes, bobcats and other small predators, but few ever have to deal with larger predators like mountain lions, wolves and bears.

The best way I'm aware of to keep the larger predators out is electric fencing. Wolves and mountain lions (at least in our area) tend to avoid homesteads and people, but bears are a different story. Bears have excellent memories and once they become accustomed to easy pickings it's difficult to change their behavior.

Problem bears are nothing new around here.

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