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Big increase in bear sightings in Coquitlam
Coquitlam city staff are counting on new wildlife-resistant garbage cans to cut down on the number of bear and wildlife complaints.
The city’s new solid waste collection system will begin in July, when BFI Canada Inc. begins automated curbside pick-up for the city’s approximate 25,000 single-family homes.
That’s when wildlife complaints typically surge and last year was a big year for animal sightings, problem bears and pests, according to the city’s Environmental Services division.
A report to council tated that bear sightings, complaints and property damage occurred in all areas of Coquitlam. On a map, the bear-related sightings reported to the provincial Conservation Officer Service stretched from Miller and Mackin parks on the west side to Minnekhada Park in the city’s northeast.
To try to control the problem, urban wildlife staff patrolled neighbourhoods to educate householders about garbage and other bear attractants, handing out 132 notices of violation — but no fines.
In addition, the Conservation Officer Service noticed a significant increase in bear activity across the northeast part of the region, with a total of 1,565 calls for Coquitlam, almost doubling the number of the previous year, when 950 bear calls were received.
As well, seven bears were destroyed and one cougar was killed last year because of safety issues, the report states.
The city also handled 31 calls due to coyotes, 24 due to raccoons and 13 cougar/bobcat calls as well as dealing with a few skunk, waterfowl, deer, bat, rabbit, fish and other animal concerns.
Pests were another issue, with 60% of calls about rodents, 22.4% about wasps, 9.6% about other insects, 6.4% about birds and crows and 1.6% about squirrels, for a total of 125 pest calls.
This year, the Conser-vation Officer Service and city urban wildlife officials are asking people to once again clean up their garbage and other attractants, including pet food and bird seed, as bears are awake from hibernation and looking for food.
NEW BINS COMING SOON
Coquitlam’s new trash collection program starts July 2. Homeowners in single-family residences will get new bins in late April or early May. Residents will get to choose their cart size: 120, 240 or 360 litres. Collection will be weekly for the green can (food and yard trimmings) and bi-weekly for garbage that can’t be recycled or put in the green can. Visit coquitlam.ca/curbsidecollection for more information on the program.