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Bear watch: Coquitlam residents asked to secure garbage as city staff set extra eyes on local neighbourhoods

There have been 11 reported bear encounters in February across the city, some of which involving attractants from improper disposal of attractants.
bear garbage
A bear ripping open a black garbage bag for food. | File photo

The warmer side of winter is nearing, which means more bears are likely to crawl out of their dens in search of food sources.

In Coquitlam, as of this publication (Feb. 28), four of 11 known encounters this past month involved attractants from garbage bins according to WildSafeBC's Wildlife Alert Reporting Program (WARP).

All four were reported out of three specific neighbourhoods: Harbour Chines, Mundy Park and River Springs — areas where sightings and encounters are regularly reported, the city says.

As a result, a news release today (Feb. 28) states Coquitlam staff are set to send out extra patrols across the community to look for potential improperly secured garbage and green carts.

"Guided by massive appetites and a keen sense of smell, bears find unsecured garbage carts, dumpsters and other food sources near homes and businesses to be an irresistible draw," explains environment manager Caresse Selk.

"Unsecured garbage continues to be the most common bear attractant in Coquitlam. This is a problem because bears that become habituated to eating garbage can become unpredictable, and increase the risk to public safety."

She adds a $500 fine could be issued to property owners that put out unsecured garbage that regularly attracts wildlife — "even unintentionally."

In 2020, Coquitlam solid waste management and wildlife and vector control bylaw officers handed out 72 tickets and 1,039 warnings to residents in relation to feeding bears or other animals.

There are three basic "bear smart" steps local residents and businesses are encouraged to follow when it comes to securing possible bear attractants:

  • Place carts at the curb after 5:30 a.m. on collection day (not the night before)
  • Place garbage, food waste and recycling somewhere inaccessible to wildlife (locked garage or shed)
  • Freeze smelly garbage and food waste to keep carts odour-free on collection day (regularly clean the bins too)

For more information on securing potential attractants and how to report a concern or conflict involving bears, you can visit the City of Coquitlam's website.