Diana George puts garbage in a bear-proof bin in Maple Ridge Park. Colleen Flanagan/ THE NEWS

Spike of bear calls to Conservation Officer Service prompts calls for prevention

‘We want to do everything we can beforehand to reduce conflict,’ said Sgt. Todd Hunter

With spring comes longer days, wildflowers, and, if you live close to wooded areas in Maple Ridge, sightings of black bears.

While the back country area is home to the bears, conflicts in human-populated areas are no good for either species.

Sgt. Todd Hunter, of the Conservation Officer Services, said there has been a large spike in calls recently, with bears being spotted around Maple Ridge Park, and the neighbourhoods of Silver Valley, and Rock Ridge.

“We need the public’s help in order to prevent these conflicts happening in the first place,” he said.

“People need to understand that bears are considered a large predator, they can cause some serious issues with public safety. They’ve been known to attack people, so we’ve got to take it very seriously,” Hunter elaborated.

READ MORE: Maple Ridge Bear Aware program reinstated

Education programs being provided by the City of Maple Ridge and WildSafe B.C. have been instrumental in making sure people are taking the correct preventative measures, he noted.

Tips like keeping garbage secured behind locked doors in a shed or garage until collection day can be found on WildSafe B.C’s website.

“Anything with caloric value left outside is a problem,” Hunter said, “Bears are designed by nature to smell it from a long distance and they’ll find it.”

That can include everything from uncleaned grease traps to overflowing birdfeeders.

“If you insist on having a birdfeeder, you’ve got to manage it accordingly,” the conservation officer said.

“If you’re leaving [attractants] out in any of the greenbelt areas you’re just asking for a bear to come along.”

Hunter said the more the public can abide by these rules, the and guidelines, the less he and his colleagues will have to destroy bears.

“We do not love that task,” he said. “It suck and we’d rather be doing other things, but we’re bound by our duty to protect public safety.”

Residents and businesses who do not adhere to the guidelines will face penalties, he noted.

“If you leave your garbage out, we’re going to take you to task.”

The Conservation Officer Service reporting line is 1-877-952-7277.


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