Bears are a common sight in rural areas of Maple Ridge. (Ross Davies photo)

Bear conservation group wants higher fines for offenders

Maple Ridge Bears wants $500 penalties and earlier garbage collection

The Maple Ridge Bears group is getting more organized and two items on its agenda are earlier garbage pickup, and tougher bylaws for people leaving attractants out.

Group spokesperson Susan Zanders said they hosted a meeting on Monday night at city hall, and gathered momentum and volunteers for new initiatives, aimed at keeping bears away from conflicts with people, so they will not have to be shot by conservation officers.

One of its front-burner initiatives is to ask council for updated bylaws with more teeth. They would like to see $500 fines for people who leave out garbage and other attractants. To make it easily enforceable, they would like the enforcement process changed to allow bylaws officers to simply leave a ticket at a home, like a parking ticket, rather than being required to serve the ticket in person.

Maple Ridge Bears will have a garbage committee and ask service providers to pick up solid waste earlier in the morning in areas known to be visited by bears.

Zanders said one service provider, “a bear-hearted person,” has already re-worked his pickup schedule to collect solid waste in Silver Valley about two hours earlier in the morning than in the past, doing pickup downtown later.

She said the gleaners committee also has been picking fruit and berries when contacted with the food given to cubs being housed at Critter Care Wildlife Society in Langley Township.

There will also be an educational committee that will offer people information about bears, such as how keen their sense of smell, and how well they navigate in the wild.

And there will be a community events committee.

“We really want to find a way to co-exist,” she said. “We’re really trying to capture that community spirit that’s out there.”

Zanders noted the fall is a critical time, when bears are taking in a lot of calories in preparation for a winter of inactivity.

“They’re an amazing group of very passionate people,” she called the volunteers. “We have a lot of work ahead of us, and we’re just getting organized.”



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