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Record set in January 2024 for bear sightings around B.C.

Port Coquitlam is warning residents and business owners to lock up their garbage bins as bears emerge from hibernation — or face a hefty fine.
A black bear eating berries in Coquitlam.

As bears start to wake from their winter sleep, the City of Port Coquitlam is reminding residents and business owners to lock up their trash.

This week, the municipality issued an alert about bruins coming out of hibernation and hunting for food to fill their empty bellies.

As a result, bylaw staff are now working with B.C. conservation officers to ensure garbage bins are out of reach until the morning of scheduled collection days.

And a $500 fine awaits for those who flout the bylaws.

According to government statistics, the Conservative Officer Service (COS) fielded the highest amount of calls about black bears for a January earlier this year since its online reporting began in 2011.

The public reported 235 black bear sightings across the province to the RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) hot-line versus 131 in January 2023, and COS destroyed five bears that month; two cubs were also moved into rehabilitation.

December 2023 also saw the most amount of calls about black bears since 2011 for a December, with 722 reports versus 410 in December 2022.

On Wednesday, April 3, the city will host an information session to help residents stop bears from dipping into their garbage cans.

The meeting will happen from 7 to 9 p.m. in the JB Young Room at the Port Coquitlam Community Centre (PCCC). To register, you can visit the city website.

Secure your attractants

In Coquitlam, residents also face a penalty up to $500 for unlocked garbage bins — or setting them out too early on pick-up days — while, in Port Moody, the bylaw violation is up to $1,000.

Here are some tips from the City of Port Coquitlam to be Bear Smart and avoid a human–wildlife conflict:

  • 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
  • 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

To report a bear that’s threatening, aggressive or a risk to public safety, call the Conservation Officer Service 24/7 at 1-877-952-7277 or visit

Have you seen a bear this year? Send your photos to [email protected] for publication.