Port Coquitlam bears stay up past their bed time

A bear found wandering in a neighourhood in Port Coquitlam this past summer was transferred to a nearby forest to chow down on natural food. - SUBMITTED PHOTO
A bear found wandering in a neighourhood in Port Coquitlam this past summer was transferred to a nearby forest to chow down on natural food.
— image credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO

Not all bears are hibernating this winter and Tri-City so residents are being encouraged to remain vigilant, keeping their garbage secure and their yards free of any other attractants.

A sow and cubs were seen recently in Port Coquitlam's Hyde Creek and although bear sightings were down in December, there is enough of a concern to warn residents.

"If they're getting food they won't den," explained Dan Scoones, PoCo's manager of bylaw services.

Last month, there were 11 bear sightings and four nuisance complaints in the city even though bears are supposed to be hibernating.

A spokesperson for the Conservation Officer Service said complaints are down substantially in PoCo compared to November, when there were 65 reported sightings, 13 nuisance-related calls and two reports of property damage.

But the recent sighting of a mother bear and cubs is bad news — especially for the bears.

"Every year, we have bears that just don't sleep and they become problem bears and they end up getting destroyed... it becomes a safety issue," Cody Ambrose said.

Statistics aren't available for 2012 for the Tri-Cities, and provincial stats won't be complete until March, but anecdotally, last year's bear season was relatively quiet.  Ambrose said there were fewer problem bears around, likely because many of them had been destroyed or relocated the year before, and possibly more natural food was available.

He also suspects the implementation of a new $345 fine for leaving or placing wildlife attractants may have encouraged people to be more careful.

Only one of those fines was given out last year — to a Coquitlam resident who was feeding bears. The individual was leaving out full loaves of bread for the bruins, Ambrose said because "they liked seeing bears in the area."

He said it's not uncommon for people to leave food out for bears, even though it's extremely risky, a fineable offence and usually ends up with the bear being destroyed.

Conservation officers also dealt with several housing complexes in Coquitlam that weren't taking care of their garbage. But with the support of the city's urban wildlife coordinator, Drake Stephens, officers were able to educate and encourage residents to be more careful.


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