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

There were 114 homeless people counted in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows as part of the Metro Vancouver Homeless Count in March. (The News/files)
More than 100 homeless counted in March snapshot across Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Metro Vancouver Homeless Count has been taking place since 2002

Lobbying efforts continue to have a fish ladder added to the Alouette dam. (News files)
ALONG THE FRASER: Habitat behind dam could help reverse salmon declines

VIDEO: Environmentalist keeps lobbying for Hydro to fund a fish ladder to move salmon over the dam

SD42 superintendent Sylvia Russell.
Need for post secondary education in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows growing

New curriculum, influx of young teachers changing school district, says the retiring superintendent

Desiree Betz captured a picture of an osprey at Pitt Lake, anxious to share some of the photos of “our beautiful town.” (Special to The News)
SHARE: Feeding time on Pitt Lake

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

New Pitt Meadows Mayor Bill Dingwall supports hiring more full-time firefighters. (The News files)
Pitt Meadows approves four new career firefighters

New council will have added six over three years

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

(File photo)
Vancouver police warn of toxic drug supply after 7 people overdose at one party

Seven people between the ages of 25 to 42 were taken to hospital for further treatment.

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

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

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Peter Wilson, left, and Micah Rankin, right, formed the Special Prosecutor team that was tasked with reviewing and litigating charges stemming from the Bountiful investigation. Trevor Crawley photo.
End of Bountiful prosecution wraps up decades of legal battles

Constitutional questions had to be settled before a polygamy prosecution could move forward

Most Read