Moose impaled on spiked fence in Kelowna renews call for bylaw changes | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Moose impaled on spiked fence in Kelowna renews call for bylaw changes

This moose died after it was likely impaled on a fence in Kelowna.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Ken Owens
March 10, 2020 - 6:30 AM

A moose’s traumatic death last week in a Rutland neighbourhood has prompted a conversation about a bylaw amendment that would see the end to spiked wrought-iron fence construction.

On Friday, March 6, Kelowna Conservation Officers found a dead moose in a backyard in Kelowna’s Rutland area.

“A necropsy was conducted which determined the cause of death to be an impaled sternum,” according to a statement issued by the Conservation Officer Service. “A tired, stressed and irritable moose trying to jump an urban fence can lead to catastrophic events. Moose will drag their weighty midsections across the top rail. Metal wrought-iron fences with points fashioned like spear tips kill moose and deer annually.”

“Kelowna contains thousands of miles of fences. Notably, the least common fence design seems to be killing the most moose and deer,” according to the statement.

Ken Owens, Kelowna Conservation Officer, said the service deals with roughly 12 incidents a year with animals being impaled on wrought-iron fences in the city.

“Wrought-iron fences are a major source for potential injury to a moose. Many railing patterns and especially those with pointed pickets rising above the top or mid-rail are the most likely to injure or impale a moose,” according to the statement.

The Conservation Officer Service has been calling on Kelowna to change its bylaw since March 2019.

READ MORE: Why conservation officers in Kelowna want this popular type of fence to be banned (Graphic Content Advisory)

Bryn White, program manager with the South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program, said they are supporting the Conservation Officer Service in finding solutions to this ongoing problem.

While the issue persists across the Okanagan, it has been a particular concern in Kelowna, she said.

Wrought-iron fences aren't common but the ones that do have caused painful and gruesome deaths for roughly a dozen deer and moose per year.
Wrought-iron fences aren't common but the ones that do have caused painful and gruesome deaths for roughly a dozen deer and moose per year.
Image Credit: Adobe Stock

“It seems to be quite concentrated in the winter as wildlife is moving through communities… one of the possible solutions is helping to provide guidelines on what a safe... fence looks like,” she said.

Wrought-iron fences are hazardous because of their strength, she said. A fence won’t bend or break when an animal jumps over it.

“They will often be hung up and suffer and will have to be euthanized or will die on the fence,” she said. “The bylaw would help with new fence construction, but what’s really needed is an education program to help people understand how they can retrofit a fence to be safe for wildlife. So basically any removal of the finials so you don’t have those tops… is what’s recommended."

Deer will try to jump over anything that’s not higher than eight-feet tall, she said.

READ MORE: Bylaw to ban spiked fences and save Kelowna deer on city backburner

While a draft of an amendment is being created for the city’s current fencing bylaw in the next few weeks, it still needs to be reviewed, said Corey Davis, environmental coordinator with the City of Kelowna.

It will still be a few months before the bylaw can be implemented, and that includes approval by city council, he said.

There is also the possibility that the city will put out a press release to make the public more aware of the issue, or something that will help spread public awareness, he said.

“I don’t see anything changing to the existing stock that’s out there, which is unfortunate, but we’ll go through that process and see,” he said.

He said the city will be working with the fencing companies as well.

The recent incident involving the Rutland moose will not speed up the bylaw approval process, he said.

“We were already looking at a text amendment change.”

Wildlife concerns fall under provincial jurisdiction and the city’s role is planning for developments within the city and making them environmentally friendly, he said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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