I have always wanted to keep chickens in my backyard, but after reading a recent warning from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, I'm a little glad I don't have any yet.

It seems with all the extra black bear sightings around the area, comes the warning that these big guys are going after chickens and destroying coops to get to them.

MassWildlife and the Massachusetts Environmental Police say they are receiving daily calls about black bears breaking into chicken coops and killing people's backyard chickens. It's as though just about every bear in the state has learned how to catch a chicken for dinner.

In fact, this is currently the number one human-bear conflict in the state.

Black bears have been slowly increasing in numbers in Massachusetts and are also making their way east along the I-495 corridor. While residents in Western Massachusetts may be prepared for the black bears potentially entering their yards, many local residents are not.

Chicken wire and wooden coops are said to be inadequate protection from a black bear. Not surprisingly, these large animals can burst right through the chicken wire and so MassWildlife encourages those with chickens to instead use electric fencing around their backyard birds.

It also suggests keeping grass and brush around chicken coops and other livestock mowed, not putting out other food as a distraction and contacting local bear hunters to hunt your property.

Additionally, if you are going to install a new electric fence, these Massachusetts Wildlife experts say to keep the power on at all times and check batteries regularly. They also encourage you to initially draw the bear to your electric fence with bacon or peanut butter so they get shocked and learn to stay away.

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