A bear family moves through a residential neighbourhood in east Maple Ridge. Residents are concerned the mother and two cubs will end up being shot. (Contributed)

A bear family moves through a residential neighbourhood in east Maple Ridge. Residents are concerned the mother and two cubs will end up being shot. (Contributed)

Deadly year for bears in Maple Ridge

13 killed, higher fines needed for those who leave attractants – Mikolay

It has been a deadly year for bears in Maple Ridge, with 13 being shot.

In a typical year, only three are killed.

“It’s dramatically higher, but a lot of communities are reporting the same thing,” said Dan Mikolay, WildSafeBC community coordinator.

He said city staff is drafting new bylaws for council to offer bears greater protection. The fine for leaving out garbage and other attractants could increase to $500.

“It has been a really unusual year for bears,” Mikolay said, noting there were five bears, that he knows of, hit by cars in Maple Ridge so far.

He believes there are a number of reasons for increased conflicts, from low salmon returns and poor berry crops to mother bears leaving their cubs earlier – all due to conditions in the environment.

READ ALSO: ‘This is nearly unprecedented’: Five bears killed after roaming near Penticton school

This week, Jennifer Lam of Maple Ridge wanted to highlight the need to protect a mother bear and her two cubs, which have been grazing on garbage in a residential neighbourhood along Dewdney Trunk Road and 236th Street.

She said the bears typically appear a few times a week, and neighbours fear they will end up being shot by conservation officers.

“We want to demand a relocation process,” she said. “Many of my neighbours are concerned for the welfare of the bears that are trying to survive.”

Sgt. Todd Hunter, of the Conservation Officer Service, said relocating bears is not an exact science. Officers have to consider whether a bear has become habituated to human food sources or dangerously lost its fear of humans.

He noted that bears wandering Silver Valley neighbourhoods were relocated, but soon returned to the subdivisions.

“They came right back into the community after the berry season, and right into garbage. It’s easy food.”

Hunter urges the public to continue reporting bear conflicts.

“A lot of people are not reporting stuff, in order to circumnavigate us dealing with it,” he said. “That’s the worst thing they can do.

“There could be an issue where a person could be hurt, injured or killed.”

He said relocation can be a viable option.

“The best option is to manage the attractants,” he added.

Mikolay said the city can do more.

The current enforcement process of warning residents before fining them $200 for putting out garbage or leaving out other attractants is apparently not working.

Because residents effectively get a second and even third chance to amend their behaviour before being fined, there is time for bears to become habituated to human food sources.

He would like bylaw changes by March, yet another education blitz, followed by enforcement and fines as high as $500.

This same approach and fine total reduced early garbage put-outs by 70 per cent in Coquitlam, said Mikolay.

“The goal isn’t to fine, the goal is to eliminate attractants,” he added.

Going further with bylaw changes, there is also consideration of requiring future townhome developments be built with secure garbage storage.

Currently, there are units where residents keep their waste in carports, which are open to bears and other wildlife.

There is no place for residents to keep their garbage inside.

Mikolay will be working with residents in carport complexes to find ways to secure garbage.

“It’s more important to find solutions than it is to go out and issue fines,” said Mikolay.

Susan Zanders, of the group Maple Ridge Bears, which tries to reduce bear conflicts, said east Maple Ridge is a thoroughfare for bears. Her volunteer group has tried to educate the public about attractants.

“That’s an active area that we flyer, and some of those areas have been flyered twice,” said Zanders.

She is on board with higher fines because people still leave out attractants.

So a mother bear, like the one reported by Lam, is literally teaching her cubs to eat garbage and other food left near houses.

“If you get rid of the garbage, they will go into their natural spaces and look for food there. They need to get fat, and they don’t have a lot of time,” said Zanders.

“If we haven’t got that area cleaned up, we will have a lot of bears being shot next spring.”


 

@NeilCorbett18
ncorbett@mapleridgenews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The hall as it appears today. (Special to The News)
Heritage Japanese Meeting Hall starts new life as a child care centre

Now used as a church, site will be developed for six houses

Patricia Gordon was honoured with the Spirit of Pitt Meadows Award, which recognizes the most outstanding resident of the year. (Special to The News)
City of Pitt Meadows honours 2020s community service stars

Mayor Dingwall said he is proud of role models and leaders for stepping up during challenging year

Haven Vivero, bottom right, took first place in the monthly Monologue Slam Canada contest. (Facebook/Monologue Slam Canada)
Maple Ridge boy takes top spot in monologue competition

Haven Vivero started acting when he was six

The site of the former Hammond Cedar sawmill is being investigated by developer Conwest developments. (The News files)
Developer investigating former Hammond Cedar site

Vancouver-based Conwest in talks with Interfor to buy riverfront property

Mayor Bill Dingwall said grant will go a long way to ensure the risks and hazards of wildfires are minimized in Pitt Meadows. (News files)
Pitt Meadows receives grant for wildfire resiliency planning

City awarded $50,000 as part of provincial program designed to reduce risk and impact of wildfire

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Burnaby Mounties responded to 56 complaints and issued 10 tickets to people flouting COVID-19 restrictions in February. (Patrick Davies/100 Mile Free Press)
COVID denier fined $2,300 for hosting gathering in her home: Burnaby RCMP

The woman told Mounties she does not believe the pandemic is real

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

RCMP members responded to calls of a man-down at Landsdowne mall in Richmond Wednesday afternoon. The 40-year-old was suffering from stab wounds. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man in critical condition following afternoon attack outside Richmond mall: RCMP

The Vancouver resident was found lying injured outside Richmond’s Lansdowne Centre

Most Read