With spring just around the corner, Port Coquitlam is taking steps to remind residents of the importance of removing food waste that could attract bears.
Cold temperatures may be keeping bruins in their dens for now, but in March they will likely rise from their winter slumber.
With the loss of 30 per cent of their body mass during hibernation, black bears will be looking for food to regain their energy.
This could mean bears making their way into PoCo neighbourhoods.
To make residents more "bear smart," the city is hosting an information session on Wednesday, March 8 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Port Coquitlam Community Centre (PCCC) – JB Young Room.
Residents will learn practical and effective tips for managing bear attractants and responding to bear encounters safely, according to a city press release.
Attendees can share questions to be answered by city staff and bylaw officers during a question-and-answer period.
Register online at portcoquitlam.ca/bears.
Enforcement, education to begin soon
Efforts to crack down on mismanagement of food waste and other attractants will also begin soon.
Bears emerge from hibernation typically between March and April and will soon begin searching for food.
Bylaw services staff will be working again with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service to track bear activity and conduct "proactive joint enforcement," the press release further states.
The city’s ambassador will also be out in the community performing waste cart audits to ensure residents and businesses are securing their waste and removing other wildlife attractants.
Here's how to avoid a $500 fine
Residents and businesses can do their part and avoid a $500 fine by following the city’s garbage regulations:
- Secure garbage and food scraps in either a wildlife-resistant enclosure (e.g., garage or shed) or by using the city’s wildlife-resistant cart lock.
- Set out carts between 5:30–7:30 a.m. on collection day and re-secure your carts by 7 p.m.
Properties without secure storage space for carts are required to use a city cart lock, or certified alternative, at all times except for the day of collection.
Instructions for proper lock use are available at portcoquitlam.ca/lockitright.
Residents who would like to request the additional third arm for added security or to be placed on a waitlist for a lock can contact public works at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 604-927-5496.
Tips for keeping bears out of your yard
The best protection against bears is to physically keep waste and other attractants out of reach:
- Keep carts in the garage or in an area not accessible to wildlife.
- Freeze meat and strong-smelling food scraps, and wait until collection day to put them into the green cart.
- Keep pet food inside.
- Clean barbecues after use and keep freezers indoors or locked up.
- Don’t store strong-smelling garbage (diapers, grease barrels) or scented products (pop cans, toothpaste tubes, hairspray, mouthwash, etc.) outside.
- Harvest fruit, berries and vegetables before or as they ripen, and clean up fallen fruit.
- Remove bird feeders from April to November or suspend them high.
- Block access to small animals (chickens, rabbits) and berry bushes.
Bears are food driven and are feeding on natural and unnatural food sources including bird feeders, suet, chickens, rabbits and garbage.
The increased bear activity in neighbourhoods is directly related to the availability of food.
After bears find a meal once in a waste cart or from a backyard fruit tree, they quickly learn to return to the area and teach their cubs to do the same. These “garbage bears” lose their natural fear of humans and can become aggressive over time.
Be Cautious on the Trails:
- Travel with someone else or a group.
- Be alert where bears may not be able to see, hear or smell you.
- Make noise (talk loudly, clap or sing) to let the bear know you are there.
- Keep children close and dogs on a leash at all times.
- Watch for fresh bear signs (droppings, tracks, scratches on trees, overturned boulders, or smashed logs).
- Never approach a bear; maintain a distance of at least 100 metres.
The public is also advised to call the provincial conservation officer service 24-hour toll-free hotline at 1-877-952-RAPP or at rapp.bc.ca if they witness an aggressive or threatening bear or if there is a conflict that threatens public safety.