November 02, 2013 - 9:58 AM
PENTICTON - It's hoped a new guidebook will teach farmers and vintners how to live with wildlife rather than against.
Okanagan species are being pushed down into the valley bottoms by climate change and are faced with agricultural development creeping up into their habitat.
Animals looking for new habitat, and those looking for the easiest meal, will invade vineyards and orchards if given the chance.
Regional District Okanagan Similikameen program manager Zoe Kirk said Conflict Reduction Techniques has information for farmers looking to save their crops and livestock from hungry deer, bears and other critters.
Kirk said cougars could also be an issue. If one is spotted tailing a small herd of deer into an orchard, fruit pickers will play it safe by leaving the fields resulting in lost production.
"We are seeing a little more conflict with wildlife with the agricultural industry," she said.
The conflict guide is only one in the Living With Wildlife series which cover everything from mould and rats, to cougars to bears she said. And starlings. "We've had quite an explosion of starlings over the last few years."
Kirk expects the guides to be updated and changed as often as the climate changes. For example there weren't as many bee-keepers as there are today.
The guidebook also has advice on being pro-wildlife. Kirk said snakes are often crossing developed land to find water. Landowners can install snake-fencing to keep the reptiles safe and off their property.
"It's an easy thing to fence our own property in," she said, but this will force animals to go to the next unprotected property. "We need to think about how animals get from their dens to food and water sources."
Kirk wants future editions printed in the languages of those who work in the agricultural industry, such as Spanish, French, Italian, Portugese as well as English.
Free digital copies of the guides can be found at the Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance website.
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