A bear is believed to have preyed on a miniature donkey that was found dead in its paddock near Webster’s Corners in Maple Ridge last week.
The BC Conservation Officers Service received a report about the slain donkey on June 17. The owners and conservation officers believed it to have been a cougar, after several sightings of big cats have been reported by residents of the neighbourhood.
Residents also report they have lost lambs to predators in recent months.
But CO Service Sgt. Todd Hunter said they consulted an expert in predators, and from photos of the little donkey’s remains, the specialist guessed that it had been a bear attack.
Sure enough, the residents of the property set out a security camera, and received images of a black bear coming back to the scene, “nosing around the kill site,” said Hunter.
Hunter said the COs have set a trap for a bear – a culvert trap which captures bears live. He said there is a strong likelihood the bear has killed other livestock in the neighbourhood, and needs to be removed from the area.
Mary Robson told The News she has lost two lambs to a predator, while another neighbour has lost five. Robson said she has taken to shepherding her remaining 13 sheep in a golf cart, to ensure they are safe.
Once the bear is caught, Conservation Officers will make a decision whether it should be permanently removed from the population, Hunter explained.
Hunter said residents can help reduce wildlife conflicts by taking measures to ensure their animals are not vulnerable to prey – although he did not fault the donkey owners.
He advocates for electric fences as effective against predators such as bears: “When they get zapped, they do not like it.”
Hunter said Maple Ridge’s Wildsafe Coordinator Dan Mikolay has done great work demonstrating how effective electric fences can be.
“Dan’s been doing some good work with volunteers from Maple Ridge Bears,” he said. “We have a really effective communications system.”
“Generally, every year we’ve got issues where people have livestock preyed on,” he added. “So we need the public to do everything they can.”
He refers the public to Wildsafe BC‘s new public information online, including tips and strategies such as how to use bear spray, camping in wildlife country and having “A Wildsafe yard.”
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