Residents beware, the bears are back in town

Maple Ridge still doesn’t have a bear aware bylaw

Residents of Maple Ridge need to be bear aware as the bruins leave their dens in search of food.

Two traps, to catch hungry bears that started snacking on garbage, were set in Maple Ridge this past week, Bears have also been spotted in downtown Maple Ridge and in neighbourhoods further east.

Conservation officer Paul McFadden said he’s been receiving several calls a week about bears since the weather warmed.

Two bears in Coquitlam and one from Mission have already been killed this year.

“We do have numerous calls and numerous sightings at this point,” said McFadden.

“We only attend calls that require action. If a bear is aggressive or breaking someone’s property, then we’ll go out.”

The Ministry of Environment’s Conservation Officer Service received 23,240 reports of bear sightings between April

1, 2010 and March 31, 2011.

During that time, conservation officers attended 2,827 incidents in which bears were acting aggressively or public safety was an issue. As a result, 120 bears were relocated, while 675 bears had to be destroyed.

The most effective and natural way to prevent conflicts with bears in urban areas is to put away attractants, such as garbage,  bird seed, compost and fruit.

In communities that have bylaws in place to prevent human and wildlife encounters, there has been a decline in related bear-human conflict and the number of bears that have to be destroyed.

The nearby municipalities of Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody only allow garbage to be put at the curb between 5:30 and 7:30 a.m. on collection days.

Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam also require residents to have “wildlife-resistant” containers or lock garbage up in a garage or secure shed.

In Port Moody, residents can be fined $100 if an animal gets into their garbage, while Coquitlam’s penalties are as high as $500.

McFadden said Maple Ridge should consider a similar bylaw.

The district contemplated a bylaw three years ago, but never got around to putting one in place.

• To report an aggressive bear (bluff charging, damaging property), call the Ministry of Environment Conservation Officer at 1-877-952-7277.

Bear aware:

• secure all garbage cans or carts and keep them indoors if possible or get a bear-resistant bin;

• don’t put garbage out to the curb until the morning of pickup day;

• collect ripe fruit immediately from trees and the ground;

• don’t leave pet food outside and remove bird feeders;

• never approach, interact or feed bears;

• sprinkle lime inside back yard composters to deter bears.

For more information on managing bear attractants, visit www.bearaware.bc.ca.