A black bear was shot and killed by conservation officers Wednesday evening in Maple Ridge becoming the ninth killed in the municipality in four months.
The adult male died around 7 p.m. between houses in the 23000-block of Cliff Avenue, just off Lougheed Highway.
The bear had been living in a backyard, and been feeding from garbage cans and fruit trees for weeks.
“It sounded like about 10 shots were fired,” said Brian Northam, who lives nearby.
The district has generated the most complaints about human-bears conflicts in B.C. this year, logging 641 calls since April.
“That’s an awful lot of pressure on conservation officers,” said Murray Smith, a sergeant with the B.C. Conservation Service.
Conservation officers wanted to tranquillize the bear but were left with no choice when he started moving further into the densely populated neighbourhood, near a playground and school.
“Sometimes a bear has to be destroyed to ensure public safety,” Smith added. “It’s a very stressful situation to shoot a firearm in a subdivision.”
Most likely attracted into the neighbourhood by garbage, the bear had lost its fear of humans and showed no interest in leaving the area.
“The garbage brings them into the neighbourhood and then they don’t leave. It’s like a drug addict,” explained Smith.
Block watch captain Mary McCennan, who lives across Golden Ears elementary, is upset that despite numerous warnings to her neighbours, they still won’t put their garbage bins indoors.
“Amazingly enough, people think they have bear-proof garbage bins. They aren’t making the connection between the garbage and the bear,” she said.
Rosemary Bordeleau, who spotted the bear in her backyard earlier this week, would also like neighbours to bring their trash cans indoors.
“I’d like to see stricter laws on garbage bins and more education for the public,” Bordeleau said.
Unlike other cities, Maple Ridge does not have a municipal garbage pick up system, leaving residents to hire commercial contractors to remove their trash.
Even though residents are responsible for their own garbage disposal, the district does have a garbage bylaw that states garbage bins can only be left outside after 10 p.m., the night before pick up day.
However, communications manager for the district admits it needs to be changed.
“Because bear attacks are becoming more prevalent we’re working on tightening that window through a stricter bylaw,” said Fred Armstrong.
“Typically, in other communities they do garbage pick up on certain days with regulations in place and they have bylaw officers monitoring neighbourhoods.”
“The thing we are going to have to figure out is how to get the schedule of when residents are getting their trash picked up by commercial contractors, so that we can do any effective enforcement,” Armstrong added.
For now, regulations aside, the best way to avoid attracting bears is to pick up any ripened fruit, to keep pets and pet food inside and to secure garbage bins indoors throughout the night.
• For tips on being Bear Aware, click here.