Leaving unsecured attractants on your property could cost you more in the new year should the City of Maple Ridge move forward with bylaw changes after a deadly year for bears.
The number of bears destroyed in Maple Ridge this year was triple the average number in a year, according to the city’s WildsafeBC coordinator.
“It’s high. It’s like three years of what we would normally have, and some of that is the attractants. But a lot of it also has to do with weather,” explained Daniel Mikolay.
In 2019, there were about 14 bears destroyed, he said.
The most recent incident happened on Dec. 13, when a bear was shot and wounded, but hasn’t been found.
“[The bears] came out [from hibernation] earlier than normal, and then there wasn’t the proper food sources because of the cold February,” Mikolay said. “So then bears were starting to get into artificial food sources – attractants – and that’s caused a lot of the conflict.”
The city is reviewing its bylaws and looking to implement changes by March 1 with the hope that people in the community will better secure attractants on their property, Mikolay said.
The changes would mean adopting a bylaw enforcement notice and increasing the fine for leaving out an attractant to $500 from $200.
“An attractant can be having your recycling, garbage and organics out on the curb before 5 a.m. the morning of pick-up,” Mikolay said.
“It can even be having your garbage cans outside your house in an unsecured bin … bird feeders, unpicked fruit, anything that would bring wildlife on to your property is considered an attractant and is subject to a fine.”
In the spring, the Maple Ridge bylaws and licensing services department will work with BC Conservation officers to ensure the community is complying with the rules, according to Michelle Orsetti, manager of bylaw services.
The new notice system allows bylaw officers to mail out tickets, she added.
“This saves time during an investigation should we have issues locating the owner for a personal service of an offence.”
But there are issues that still need to be addressed, Mikolay said.
“There are stratas that have carports and don’t have garages, so there’s no place for them to store their garbage inside,” he said.
“So how can they store it and be secure at the same time? So those people that are in those situations, we want to work with them and find solutions because its not only just our community, but other communities have the same problem.”