Bear sightings up last year

Bears in the Tri-Cities are common. - TrI-CITY NEWS
Bears in the Tri-Cities are common.
— image credit: TrI-CITY NEWS

Public education campaigns encouraging homeowners to secure their garbage were not enough to keep the number of bear sightings down in the city of Port Coquitlam last year.

The number of nuisance bear sightings in 2010 almost doubled from the year previous, increasing from 235 in 2009 to 540 a year later.

The numbers caught bylaw services manager Dan Scoones off guard.

“I was surprised when I actually saw the number,” he said. “It didn’t seem like we were hearing about a lot of problems.”

Most bears that venture into residential neighbourhoods do so because of animal attractants, like garbage, that are left unsecured. Port Coquitlam has targeted the problem by increasing education efforts and even issuing citations.

In the early part of the 2010 bear season the number of nuisance sightings appeared to be fairly consistent with past years. However, in August and September the number of sightings skyrocketed, with 300 reports in those two months alone.

But aside from the increase in the overall number of sightings, the bear activity statistics were mostly good news, Scoones said. Bear aggression is on the decline, he said, and the number of bears that have had to be destroyed in Port Coquitlam decreased to one in 2010.

Also, bear sighting numbers virtually dried up in November and December, meaning bears are denning when they are supposed to, he added.

“That to us says the bears are going up north and denning, which is a more normal thing,” he said. “If bears are around in the winter months they can only be eating garbage and you know you have a problem then.”

In August, city bylaw officials issued 103 tickets, each carrying a fine of $150 to homes that were not securing their garbage and animal attractants.

Residents are warned that even in the winter months it is important that garbage is brought to the curb on the morning of collection day or warning and tickets can be issued.

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