Last year was a bad one for bears in the Tri-Cities and 2017 isn't shaping up to be much better, with reports of bears wandering around neighbourhoods in search of food.
The BC Conservation Officer Service is warning people to lock up their garbage, get rid of bird seed and other attractants, and stay away from a bear with a yellow ear tag that might be both injured and hungry.
"It's very habituated and not very afraid of humans," said Sgt. Todd Hunter about the young black bear that has been seen in Westwood Plateau and Port Moody neighbourhoods on and off since Christmas. "We need to make sure if they live up in that area, they make sure they announce themselves coming and going, not leave their dogs unattended, or check their backyard [before letting the dog out] to avoid conflicts."
Hunter said the CO service also wants to hear from anyone who may have seen the bear so they can follow its movements.
"They're not easy to trap this time of the year," he said. "These bears tend to be more dangerous because they're really protective of the food source."
A bear trap was placed in the area but was removed and Todd said the bruin may have avoided it because of an injured leg and the difficulty of climbing in to retrieve the food left as a lure.
Since December, there have been more than 60 complaints about bears not hibernating and wandering around Tri-City neighbourhoods looking for food, most of them in Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam — and that's an unusually high number for this time of year.
And last month, conservation officers found an undernourished orphan cub wandering around Carousel Court in Coquitlam. When they took it to Critter Care in Langley, it weighed just 14 lb. and Hunter said it likely wandered away from the den where its mother still slumbered.
The unusual resurgence of bears mid-winter follows one of the worst years for bear complaints and bear deaths in the Tri-Cities in over a decade. In all, 17 bears were destroyed between April and Dec. 31, 2016 — 15 by conservation officers and two by "other" according to Ministry of Environment statistics.
• To report a human/wildlife conflict call 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP).
BEARS BY THE NUMBERS, 2016