A farming family in Enderby has had their coyote conundrum cleared up, thanks to cooperative work on the part of local bylaw officers who have allowed their two livestock protection dogs to resume their posts.
About two weeks ago, Danielle Smith’s property in the Back Enderby and Old Salmon Arm Road area was caught between more emboldened coyotes at the beginning of this year’s mating season and resulting noise complaints from their dogs’ barking that threatened to hit them with costly fines.
Moving wasn’t an option as the family of four came to the country residential area with purpose; for the past four years they’ve been able to maintain their farming livelihood there, while still being close to schools and neighbourhood friends for their children.
When coyotes began feasting on their chickens and bylaw ordered their dogs to be muzzled due to noise complaints from neighbours, the family was stuck in a bind with no clear answer.
But last Tuesday (Jan. 26), a bylaw officer visited the farm having reviewed video footage related to the noise complaints, and told the Smiths they won’t be receiving fines when their dogs are scaring away coyotes.
Smith said bylaw informed them they were not eligible for a noise complaint exemption under the Right to Farm Act because their property is zoned as country residential. However, the officer and his supervisor told them not to worry about receiving a fine going forward, having deemed there was no evidence supporting the noise complaints.
“He said that if any further complaints come in they’ll be asking for evidence from the person who complains, and if they continue to complain they would be getting a fine,” Smith added, describing a nuisance fine that can be levied against residents who make unfounded bylaw complaints on a repeated basis.
This means the Smiths are allowed to un-muzzle and un-kennel their dogs, as bylaw determined they have a right to protect their livestock.
“Because they don’t believe that they’re just barking for no reason and not being supervised, we really don’t have much to worry about anymore,” Smith said.
Things seem to have cleared up on the coyote front as well. In the week since the last bylaw visit, Smith says the coyotes have returned to howling in the distance as they have in years past, and have stopped encroaching on their chicken coop and property.
The week before, when the two dogs were muzzled and kenneled, Smith said her husband had to chase coyotes out of the back yard of their home at 4 a.m. At that point, they decided to release the hounds.
“We just said forget it, we have children, and if they’re starting to come into our back yard that’s a serious issue,” Smith said. “So we took the collars off and let them do their thing.”
When they told bylaw about their decision, they were again told not to worry. Smith said she was thankful bylaw was cooperative in dealing with a bizarre situation.
“They didn’t just slap us with tickets, they were actually willing to work with us.”