Defenders of Wildlife, USDA Wildlife Services and the Natural Resources Defense Council have partnered with the Noble Orchard Company to install electric fencing at the company’s commercial fruit orchard to reduce conflicts with black bears in the area. By installing electrified fencing around their property, bears will be denied access to ripe fruit, a strong attractant.
Pamela Flick, senior California representative for Defenders of Wildlife: “Our goal is to ensure humans and wildlife can coexist. This proactive, nonlethal electric fencing we’re installing will reduce human-bear conflicts – and the need for lethal removal of ‘nuisance’ bears. As black bears begin their preparation for hibernation, they will look for easy meals and these fruit trees are a prime target. This fencing will keep the bears away and allow the Nobles to reduce their economic losses, which were significant last year.”
Dennis Orthmeyer, state director for the USDA Wildlife Services program in California: “Wildlife exclusion fencing represents an expensive way to prevent costly damage to fruit and honey production, especially for small farmers and ranchers with slim profit margins. With a mission to safeguard agriculture and natural resources, Wildlife Services hopes the addition of electric fencing to the producers’ existing eight-foot-high fences will prevent the need to remove native wildlife while supporting agricultural production. I want to thank Defenders of Wildlife and the Natural Resources Defense Council for partnering with us on this effort, as well as for the commitment of Noble Orchards to find a pathway for resolving wildlife conflict together. We often recommend fencing as a preventive measure, and this cooperative effort will help make this a viable project.”
Jim Noble, owner of Noble Orchard Company: “During the 2017 growing season, bears in large numbers inflicted severe damage to numerous varieties of fruit trees, both stone fruits and apples at Noble Orchard Company. A total of 832 producing trees were damage/destroyed. The damage loss totaled over 2.36 million dollars. The immediate goal is to dissuade the furry intruders from entering the orchards.”
Jim Noble added: “Excluding the bears from our production fields by use of the electric fence will allow the current farming operation to continue into the future to provide the region with top quality fruits and related products. Replanting will occur during the next couple of years to bring the orchards back to optimum production. An educational program will ensue to provide the local community with options of how to exist with the wildlife of the foothill areas while more importantly not providing human food sources for the wildlife.”
Laurie Noble, co-owner of Noble Orchard Company: “We look forward to seeing fewer bears on our game cameras during the upcoming season. Without our fruits as an accessible food source, wildlife will look elsewhere, hopefully back to the wild, and not go to other orchard and agricultural interests. Installation of electric fencing should impact our business by reducing bear damage and thus increasing productivity. Bears that have become habituated to fruits and human foods likely will continue to impact individual households. The community will probably continue to see damage by bears until we collectively reduce the availability of our waste by solidly containing garbage. The focus needs to shift to food wastes and garbage cans and the problems those items create for bears.”
Katie Umekubo, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council: “Electric fencing has proven again and again to be an extremely effective bear deterrent. We believe this project will both help to protect the Nobles’ orchard from future damage and keep black bears alive and out of trouble. Partnering with Defenders of Wildlife, Wildlife Services, and the Nobles is a perfect example of creative collaboration.”