News Views: Paw dragging

The District of Maple Ridge is working on implementing a Bear Aware program.

It wants to have an accompanying bylaw, too, like Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam and Port Moody.

But the district’s not sure what its bylaw would look like, yet.

A staff report is coming, after summer.

Then council will discuss it.

Don’t rush, though.

A young bear was killed by conservation officers in Maple Ridge Park in June.

Another bear was killed just two weeks ago in Golden Ears park after wandering into a campsite.

In all, six have been killed here since April.

Maple Ridge leads the province in bear complaints this year, and the conservation office said it’s all because of garbage.

Bears are still roaming through neighbourhoods in search of food, ripping apart garbage left out, feasting on fruit hanging on branches, bird feeders within reach and whatever’s in the compost. They’ll eat dog food, too.

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.

It is proven that there are fewer conflicts with bears and fewer destroyed in communities that have Bear Aware programs.

Maple Ridge contemplated one three years ago, yet is still without one in place.

It wants to educate the public first.

This is neglectful, as bears continue to be killed and housing continues to sprawl.

There is nothing more to consider. A template for a bear bylaw already exists. It shouldn’t take months to put one in place, not for a council that just last summer tried to ram through the Pelton proposal for a business park on farmland.

It shouldn’t be difficult to enforce one, not for a bylaws department that went crazy this past year harassing RV owners, then businesses about signs.

Don’t drag your paws on this.

And, folks, for goodness sake, lock up your garbage cans (bearaware.bc.ca).

Remember, a fed bear is a dead bear.

– The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadws News