The conservation group Maple Ridge Bears was celebrating, after 10 fewer bears have been shot in Maple Ridge this year, compared with 2019.
Leah Cooke, who heads the group and administrates its website, noted there were 14 bears killed in Maple Ridge last year, and this year it’s down to four.
Cooke offered “Big bear hugs being sent from Maple Ridge Bears to everyone who has worked towards better coexistence this year.”
She said the improvement is the result of “people taking the time to make changes on their properties, and educate themselves and their neighbours.”
Her group has taken on a public education role, and also picks unwanted fruit and berries so it is not left on properties to attract bears. The fruit goes to Critter Care Wildlife Society in Langley to feed bear cubs and other animals. Last year they donated 600 pounds, said Cooke.
“It’s been a fantastic year,” said Daniel Mikolay, the Wildsafe BC community coordinator for Maple Ridge, noting there has also been “a dramatic drop in the calls of bears getting into garbage.”
The summer was really quiet, particularly compared to the previous summer that was marred by numerous human-bear conflicts.
Mikolay credits teamwork by the city bylaws department, the Conservation Officer Service and the volunteers from Maple Ridge Bears.
“We put together a plan for this year, and it’s phenomenal how well it has worked,” he said.
The result has been better buy-in from residents in Rockridge and Silver Valley, which are high conflict areas. He said the number of early garbage set-outs is dropping. That sent bears to natural food sources, which were plentiful this year.
“The community is getting it,” said Mikolay.
He was also gratified to see some 20 electric fences installed at properties in more rural zones with livestock and other attractants. In past years, he would see about three such installations per year. Mikolay sets up an electric fence on properties, so residents can see its effectiveness.
The busiest time of year for bear conflicts has now passed. He said the Maple Ridge Bears group has been “extremely helpful” in public education.
“The focus is on collaboration, and working together,” said Mikolay.
Cooke echoed that.
“The community is really engaged and working together, and that’s a powerful force,” she said.
“We still have a ways to go, but everyone who has taken the time to care about our wildlife deserves a pat on the back,” said Cooke in a Facebook post. “Way to go Maple Ridge.”