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Keep your garbage secure in Moody

Port Moody is urging residents to keep their bear-resistant bins tethered, stored in a shed or in a garage until the morning of collection day after several of the sturdy containers were destroyed by hungry bruins.

Port Moody is urging residents to keep their bear-resistant bins tethered, stored in a shed or in a garage until the morning of collection day after several of the sturdy containers were destroyed by hungry bruins.

Last week, three bins were returned to the city after they were damaged by bears that pried them open to retrieve their contents,

The bears are sniffing out the garbage and dragging the bins into the bushes or a nearby ravine, where they jump on them to get them open.

In all, 26 damaged bins have been returned since they were introduced to the city two years ago.

People need to be more aware that their garbage is appealing to bears looking for high-calorie food to bulk up after spending several months in hibernation.

"We've stressed right from the beginning that these carts are animal-resistant, not bear-proof," said Rick Saunier, the city's environmental technologist.

Saunier said the city bylaw requires garbage and green waste containers be secured - either stored indoors or tethered with a chain - and people who don't will get a warning and, potentially, a fine.

"We've handed out several warnings this year," Saunier said.

As local salmonberries start to ripen, the bears are drawn down from the hills and Saunier doesn't want to see the bruins turn to garbage instead.

In Coquitlam, similar concerns have arisen as bears make their way along trails searching for wild berries. The city's Bear Aware co-ordinator, Drake Stephens, said he's getting a couple of calls a day from people concerned about bears or their neighbour's garbage, and he's finding garbage left in plastic bags on the street, especially along Johnson Street.

Stephens said crows rip open the bags and leave crumbs and mess everywhere, and the plastic allows the odour to escape, attracting bears.

He is also concerned about the number of people who aren't using the green can program and are still putting their food in regular garbage cans. The problem, Stephens says, is that green cans are picked up first to shorten the amount of time the food waste and compost is available to bears. He said he has seen bears in Coquitlam recently knocking over garbage containers to get food on garbage day.

"There's a lot of people that think they're doing the right thing. I'm finding it difficult to educate them one at a time," Stephens admitted, nothing that now is not the time to get complacent.

"Just because we're not seeing a lot of bears doesn't mean we can relax and get sloppy. We will attract bears if there's a food source available."

In Port Coquitlam, bear calls have been "reasonable," about 16 sightings since the beginning of May, said the city's bylaw services manager, Dan Scoones, and most of them have been about bears eating wild berries in local trails

He's urging people to call the Conservation Officer Service, not the city, if they have a complaint, but once he starts hearing from conservation officers that bears are getting in people's garbage, he'll start to step up night patrols to make sure residents are sticking to the 5:30-to-7:30 a.m. set-out time on collection day.

And this year, violators won't get a warning, he said, but a $150 fine.

To report bear sightings in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam or Port Moody, call the Conservation Office Service at 1-877-952-7277.

For more information or to report circumstances that may attract bears, call 604-927-3554 in Coquitlam and 604-469-4572 in Port Moody.

Second injured bear on the loose

An injured bear that may have been shot with an arrow could be hiding in the woods along Port Coquitlam's Hyde Creek trail and anyone who sees it should call the Conservation Officer Service, says Bear Aware spokesperson Drake Stephens.

"Any injured animal is always a concern," said Stephens, who said the injured bear is one of two hurt bruins in the area and sightings should be called into 1-877-952-7277. The second injured bear is walking on three legs and may have been hit by a car.

The calls have come in as bear sightings are ramping up in the region, with bears coming into the area to look for salmonberries.

Stephens said the conservation service got a call about a bear with an arrow in its side from a residence on Oriole Avenue in Port Coquitlam in a neighbourhood north of Prairie Avenue and east of Coast Meridian. Officers attempted to locate the bear but were unable to find it, Stephens said.

But the injured bear may still be in the area because a caller to The Tri-City News says he saw a bear that looked like it had a splotch of red on its side during a run along Hyde Creek trail around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Mike McQuillan said he's concerned the shooting, if it can be confirmed, was a copycat response to a bow hunting incident two weeks ago in which hunters legally shot a bear on a blueberry farm; that bear ran away into a wildlife management area next to Minnekhada Park and was later tracked and killed by conservation officers.

McQuillan said the bear he saw looked as if it may have had an arrow lodged in its side but was otherwise healthy.

Bear hunting season ended June 15 so shooting a bear would be illegal.

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