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Bears find bountiful feast of garbage outside Coquitlam mall

Businesses in a Johnson Street strip mall told to build an enclosure for their dumpster after bruins were spotted climbing in to eat garbage.
These two bruins were recently photographed eating garbage outside a mall in downtown Coquitlam.

A busy strip mall in Coquitlam is being asked to build an enclosure for its dumpster after bears were recently seen getting into a bin and eating trash.

"The city is aware of a bear accessing an open garbage bin at 1175 Johnson St. and has been working directly with the property management company to have the bins locked and secured," city environment manager Caresse Selk confirmed to the Tri-City News.

She added the city is engaged with the property manager about "ongoing education and enforcement actions," including working with adjacent businesses to build a secure enclosure for the bins.

B.C.'s Ministry of Environment has also confirmed it received two reports in the Johnson Street area of Coquitlam.

Reports were also made at the end of October to the Tri-City News about bears ransacking dumpsters at stratas in the neighbourhood, prompting action from both the city and the BC Conservation Officer Service (COS).

The Ministry of Environment urges residents to lock up garbage, including industrial waste bins.

"To help prevent bear conflicts in communities, securing attractants is critical. Conservation Officers continue to work collaboratively with area officials and organizations, including Coquitlam Urban Wildlife staff, to increase awareness and education around the importance of attractant management," a spokesperson told the Tri-City News.

Bears may not hibernate

Bears are currently looking for high calorie food to fatten up before hibernation and will turn to easy sources of food, such as garbage, bird seed, pet food and fallen fruit left on the ground.

However, in the Lower Mainland, bears may not fully hibernate and can still be active throughout the winter.

Secure enclosures are the best way to prevent bears from accessing food waste, the COS stated.

"The COS strongly encourages the public to take steps to help keep wildlife wild, including securing garbage and compost bins in a garage or enclosed structure if possible, to help prevent bears and other wildlife from accessing them."This isn't the first time bears have gotten into an open dumpster. 

In December 2021, two Port Coquitlam businesses were hit with Wildlife Protection Orders for unsecured garbage, including an instance in which an employee spotted a bear in a dumpster.

For more tips on securing unnatural attractants, you can visit the B.C. government's website or WildSafeBC.

To report wildlife conflict, residents are encouraged to call the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hot-line at 1-877-952-7277.