Why conservation officers in Kelowna want this popular type of fence to be banned - InfoNews

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Why conservation officers in Kelowna want this popular type of fence to be banned

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Image Credit: Adobe Stock
March 21, 2019 - 6:30 PM

CONTENT WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES

(Editor's note: images are well below the story. Most readers shouldn't see them unless they scroll right to the bottom of this story or click the link below.)

OKANAGAN - It’s a painful and all too common sight in and around Kelowna: Deer skewered on spiky wrought-iron fences.

“It’s not what we want to be known for in Kelowna,” Conservation Officer Ken Owens says. “It’s heartbreaking is what it is.”

The unfortunate incidents occur when deer attempt to jump over fences and get impaled by the sharp metal tips. The deer are often left suffering for hours until conservation officers are notified. Due to the severity of their injuries, deer are often put down. Wrought iron fences, particularly those with pointed pickets rising above the top or mid rail are the most likely to injure or impale a deer, Owens says. 

Since Jan. 1, the Conservation Officer Service has euthanized 10 deer in the Kelowna area that got snagged on the pointy, yet popular, style of fencing. And that’s just this year. Owens says conservation officers have been responding to these “horrific” calls for years.

“It’s gone on far too long,” Owens says.

There could be a simple solution — prohibit that style of fencing, Owens says. His office has been in touch with the City of Kelowna to explore the idea of a bylaw that would prevent such fencing from being installed by homeowners and businesses around the city. Many local businesses have already made the voluntary choice to stop selling that particular fence design, he says.

“It’s such a tragic situation and yet it’s preventable,” Owens says, noting they would like to see bylaws implemented in surrounding communities, such as Vernon, as well.

Corey Davis, environmental coordinator for the City of Kelowna, has been in contact with the Conservation Officer Service and confirmed staff will be looking into the idea of a bylaw amendment  preventing the problematic fencing from being installed in the city. Next steps would involve staff discussions, consultations with businesses that sell fencing, and drafting specific wording for the bylaw, although Davis says they are still in the early stages of exploring the idea.

The B.C. SPCA, for one, is a fan of the idea and chief scientific officer Dr. Sara Dubois says they support it fully.

“We would support any fence design that can be more humane,” she says.

She says pointy metal fences pose a major risk to deer and can leave them in agony for hours if they get impaled while trying to leap over them. She’s aware of similar initiatives underway on Vancouver Island but couldn’t say if any municipalities have approved bylaw changes.

Any new bylaw would likely only apply to new fences being installed and that would leave many pre-existing structures in the city. Owens says existing fences can easily be modified by removing top rails and pointed pickets. Having a single, smooth bar at the top would allow deer to slide over without getting impaled.

“No Conservation Officer or property owner wants to have to put an animal out of its misery or cut it down from a fence,” he says.

If you want to keep deer out of your property in the first place, Owens recommends landscaping with deer resistant plants that won’t attract them in the first place. Check with your local garden supply store or go here for more information on deer resistant plants.

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This photo was supplied by the Conservation Officer Service for use in this story to help demonstrate the risks associated with this type of wrought iron fencing.
This photo was supplied by the Conservation Officer Service for use in this story to help demonstrate the risks associated with this type of wrought iron fencing.
Image Credit: Conservation Officer Service

Image Credit: Conservation Officer Service

This photo was supplied by the Conservation Officer Service for use in this story to help demonstrate the risks associated with this type of wrought iron fencing.
This photo was supplied by the Conservation Officer Service for use in this story to help demonstrate the risks associated with this type of wrought iron fencing.
Image Credit: Conservation Officer Service

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