Kelowna council looks to ban spiked fences to prevent wildlife injury, death

Conservation Officer Service recommended the changes after numerous reports of animals impaled, injured

A fence with fur on it from an animal that got stuck. (BCCOS)

A fence with fur on it from an animal that got stuck. (BCCOS)

Kelowna city council has passed the first reading of a bylaw amendment that will prohibit spiked fences in the city.

The proposed new bylaw comes after recommendations from the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (BCCOS) to the city to consider changing fencing regulations to prevent designs that could kill or injure deer.

BCCOS cited approximately 20 instances a year in which deer are impaled or severely injured from pointed metal pickets rising above the top or mid-rails of fencing.

“These incidents are traumatic for homeowners, the community and for the officers involved,” read city staff’s report to council on May 4. “Subsequently, staff have worked closely with the Conservation Officer Service to develop a minor change to the fencing regulations in order to prevent new metal (i.e. wrought iron) fences from having pointed pickets that can injure or kill deer and other types of wildlife.”

The change will only affect wrought iron fences, as the BCCOS has not reported any problems with deer or other wildlife being injured or killed on wood fences.

The amendment is not retroactive and would not affect legal nonconforming fences that were installed before the adoption of this proposal.

“However, it is hoped that many in the community will retrofit their fences to remove pointed pickets that could hurt wildlife,” read the report.

Coun. Luke Stack asked city staff whether the amendment will pertain to shorter picketed fences in the inner city, which he says keeps the “human predators” from piling into people’s properties.

“I can see it on the taller fences particularly at urban interfaces, but in the inner city I’m struggling to see it,” he said.

The law will also apply to inner-city fences, regardless of height.

Coun. Charlie Hodge said such fences are “barbaric” and he’s seen the direct repercussions of it in his environmental work.

“It takes one experience like that to see they should never be allowed — it is cruel,” he said.

Coun. Loyal Wooldridge said it’s a shame that the bylaw won’t be enacted retroactively. But city staff said that directive would have to come from the province.

The city’s planning and communications departments will work together to form an outreach and education program to inform the community about this issue and to provide retrofit tips and wildlife safe fencing options.

The new fencing requirements will protect deer, moose and other wildlife from being injured or killed.

The bylaw amendment will go to a public hearing at a later date.

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