Editor’s note: This is a letter to Squamish’s mayor and council. It was copied to The Chief for publication.
I have been a resident of Squamish since 2000 and in 2007 moved to the Squamish Valley where I run a small hobby farm raising laying hens and free-range turkeys. I am also a Registered Animal Heath Technologist working at a local veterinary hospital in Squamish.
I am writing you in regard to my concern regarding the proposed allowance of backyard chickens and small livestock in the municipality of Squamish. I wanted to give you a few things to consider when deciding to approve this from a person with experience as a hobby farmer but also with my professional experience. I have outlined just a few of my concerns below:
• Wildlife: There is a wildlife concern in Squamish and surrounding areas. Chickens and other livestock are just attractants for wildlife in an already difficult-to-control wildlife area. People are already having difficulties keeping garbage and fruit trees out of bears’ reach. Recently, I had a bear break into both my chicken and turkey runs, killing birds in each incident. To give you an idea, I have a nine-foot-high fenced area with strong electric fencing around the perimeter. The bear found the one weak spot and broke in.
We have since upgraded our electric fencing, having electric wire every 1.5 feet up the fencing to prevent this from happening again. Cougars, coyotes and bobcats will also begin to cause more issue than already.
Once the animal has had “the best meal of its life,” it will do anything to get more and will not go away.
• Dogs: The introduction of prey species into a residential neighborhood which are populated by predator species, mainly dogs, is going to cause conflict. I would hate to see a family dog destroyed or deemed dangerous as it was put in a situation where it was doing what it thought was natural.
• Noise/odour: Unfortunately these animals make noise, can possess quite an odour and if proper husbandry is not maintained, will begin to smell.
• Disease/parasites: Both occur in all species. They can be passed many ways, including air, insects or soil.
• Control: To me, it appears it is already difficult to control dogs in town; adding other animals into the mix, who is going to ensure that bylaws are followed? Neighbourhood conflicts can arise and when the novelty wears out, where are these animals going to go, local shelters?
In conclusion, I am not against people raising their own food, as I do. However, I feel that there are plenty of already designated areas in Squamish and the surrounding area which allows this type of farming, i.e. Squamish Valley, Paradise Valley, Finch Drive area.
Livestock does not belong on a small lot in a residential neighbourhood. We need to keep the welfare of the animals in mind!