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Council to take second look at Hen Bylaw following October bear shooting

The Town of Parry Sound will be taking another look at its Hen Bylaw after a bear was shot and killed at a residence near a hen coop.

Council moved to bring the bylaw into the spotlight at their next meeting and review it after concerns raised in last week’s council meeting by representatives from the Kristen Heights area. Speaking on behalf of his neighbourhood, Keith Duncan made an official request to council to repeal the Hen bylaw 2021-7164.

The bylaw was passed in September 2021 and permits residents to keep backyard hens if they meet the requirements of the by-law.

According to Duncan, some of the concerns raised during a public consultation of the bylaw last year included that of predators such as coyotes, foxes and bears.

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He says numerous neighbours he’d spoken to have stated that prior to backyard hens being introduced to his neighbourhood, predators were not a concern. 

“Since the backyard hens were introduced to our neighbourhood the following predators have been active in the neighbourhood on a regular basis. [Bears], boars, coyotes, foxes, raccoons and fishers, all extremely dangerous predators,” he says.

In talking to the neighbourhood homeowners, Duncan says they attested that they all keep household garbage, such as recycling in their garage. In addition, he says bird feeders are not available during the non-winter months when all residents are required to bring them in, all barbeques are regularly maintained and cleaned and all yards are maintained of any available food sources. 

According to him, the only variable has been the hens which have been available 24/7 since introduced to the area, leading to an incident in Oct. that triggered the call for the bylaw’s repeal.

On Oct. 25, he says a sow or boar was observed lingering in the neighbourhood, which the MNR, town bylaw and OPP were contacted about. 

“That being said, six days later, on the afternoon of Oct. 31, a sow broke into a hen coop, located at 11 Kristen Heights and killed one of the hens in the coop. That evening the same sow broke into the coop again and killed four more hens. That sow, after killing the four hens, tried to break into the homeowner’s garage where the hen feed was stored,” he says.

Duncan says as a result of the bear being on the property, an acquaintance of the homeowner shot it twice with a rifle as it was trying to escape up a tree to her cubs. He says the bear was killed, subsequently leaving behind her two cubs orphaned. 

He says for the next few days the two cubs frantically roamed the neighbourhood without their mother’s guidance until MNR was able to live-trap them. Duncan says fears over the cubs roaming even displaced some homeowners in the neighbourhood until authorities caught them.

Parry Sound Mayor Jamie McGarvey carried the motion to bring the bylaw for further review in Council’s next meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 20.

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