Coming to a community near you…
Spring is in the air across Canada. Families will be planting, tending to, learning and bonding in their backyard gardens for the next few months. If your household is among them, you’ve already made the necessary preparations. However, there’s one concern for those located in rural areas – wild animals. In creating a food forest, you inadvertently invite them to visit your yard. While you’re happy to attract birds and other beneficial pollinators, you don’t want to welcome animals that can harm property, pets, and more importantly your family. Is there anything you can do beyond building a 10-foot wall or electrical fence around the garden? There is. Let’s review.
Practical Tips to Keeping Bothersome Wild Animals Out of Your Family Garden Without Harming Them
Dealing with Bad News Bears (and those with similar appetites)
Bears come out of hibernation in the spring and they are hungry. Their search for sustenance brings them down the mountain and into residential areas. This is especially true in BC where just last year a black bear was found hanging out in downtown Vancouver.
To keep them from coming into your garden, you must keep them away from your home. To do so you must batten down the hatches when it comes to the snacks they’re in search of. A garbage/compost/recycle bin full of food scrap is a buffet for bears and other hungry animals such as mountain lions, skunks, and raccoons. Through the spring and summer, use airtight bins and keep them indoors (home or garage) until the morning of pickup. When indoors, keep the bins away from windows and other points of entry that allow the scent to escape. Clean bins with bleach once a week as even an empty one contains spillage that exudes a sweet smell for curious creatures. In addition, clean BBQs and outdoor grills after every single use, as the buildup of sauce, grease, and gristle will wet a wild animal’s whistle. Furthermore, never leave your pet’s food outside, including dog bones in the grass. Lastly, remove bird feeders in the evening and don’t put them out again until noon. While seeds and suet invite feathered pollinators into your garden, they attract bears who enjoy them as a light snack. Bears tend to roam at night and in the early AM as do other beasts. Visiting avifauna will have to get accustomed to lunch in your garden instead of dinner, unless of course it’s an early bird special!
Mind What You Grow in Your Garden
A food garden, is just that. Not only is it meant to feed your household, it contains staples that are natural to wild animals on the other side of your fence. You tend to think of them as carnivores, but bears, raccoons, and skunks all enjoy helpings of blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Even red foxes are known to throw back a bushel of blackberries. You must also be mindful when it comes to growing literal low hanging fruit. Tree fruit is a delicacy to some predators such as mountain lions which snack on apples. Cherry trees are also candidates for backyard removal. Sadly, nearly a dozen bears were put down in the town of Revelstoke last summer for eating cherries in backyards. If your yard is adjacent to a forest you are better off getting organic fruit from your local farmers market instead.
Remember, we’re not just keeping wild animals out of our gardens for our sake, but for the sake of precious wildlife too. Creating a dining environment for them disrupts the natural order of the food chain. Subsequently, it also puts Parks & Wildlife services in a tough spot when wild animals enter communities. By following the tips above you protect your garden, your household, and wild animals too.