6th bear shot, more warnings

Ron Thomson, safety officer with Morningstar Homes.  - DIANE STRANDBERG/THE TRI-CITY NEWS
Ron Thomson, safety officer with Morningstar Homes.

Coquitlam’s Bear Aware co-ordinator is continuing to target the Burke Mountain area to remind people to get rid of ripe fruit, garbage and anything else that might attract bears after the sixth bruin of the season was shot in the city recently.

Drake Stephens has been making the rounds of construction sites to inform contractors of the importance of securing food waste after a bear was shot two weeks ago for scrounging for food in broad daylight close to workers.

Residents in the area are also being approached by Stephens and other city staff to make sure they are aware of bylaws requiring people to lock up their garbage and remove other attractants during bear season.

Stephens said the young female bear was killed by conservation officers on Aug. 25 off Coast Meridian Avenue near Scotch Pine Avenue because it wasn’t afraid of people as it walked by in search of human food. “It was fearless,” he said.

Conservation officer James Kelly confirmed the bear had been making repeated visits to the area and was breaking into garages.

“It was definitely habituated, it was returning daily to the site, and even while I was there, it showed up looking for food,” Kelly said.

The bear was the third destroyed in recent weeks,

Last Thursday, a black bear that had been previously relocated was destroyed in the Gately Avenue area of Port Coquitlam, according to conservation officers, and another bear was destroyed in the Anmore area a few days earlier, bringing to 10 the number of bears shot in and around the Tri-Cities this season.

The destruction of the sixth bear in Coquitlam prompted Coquitlam councillors Tuesday to call for a report on the current bear season and recent enforcement actions and what other opportunities may be required.

“It may be that we need to start using the [$500] fines [more], if people don’t give a hoot,” said Coun. Mae Reid, who told The Tri-City News her email was stuffed with people complaining about bears and lack of garbage control on residential properties and construction sites.

According to Stephens, contractors are doing a better job taking care of food waste at building sites but it’s a constant battle to make sure everyone knows about the issue because new workers are always coming and going.

He has posted signs and attended meetings to remind workers not to be careless with their food waste. Even a paper coffee cup with the residue of milk and sugar is food to bears, which are feeding machines now that they’re fattening up for hibernation.

New building sites aren’t part of regular garbage pickup so workers have to be responsible for their own waste, Stephens said.

Ron Thomson, a safety officer with Morningstar Homes, said he has seen the occasional bear around construction sites, such as Avondale at the top of Coast Meridian Road and has been impressing on workers and site managers the importance of securing garbage and removing food attractant.

He said garbage is locked indoors and picked up regularly, and workers are told not to leave their lunches in their cars; there are also policies for dealing with wildlife safety concerns.

“We tend to take a proactive approach to dealing with wildlife issues,” Thomson said, adding, “Nobody wants to see an animal put down.”

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