Coquitlam mother Jen Biron is proud of her eight-year-old daughter's quick actions in getting her baby brother to safety after noticing a bear creeping nearby.
Juliet and her one-year-old sibling Jax were playing in the front yard of their Ranch Park neighbourhood home around 9 a.m. on Aug. 2.
In video provided to the Tri-City News, Juilet is seen watering the grass when she looks up to the driveway and notices a bear walking down.
She then carefully puts the hose down on the ground, goes to Jax to pick him up and briskly walks down the stairs to get inside the house.
"Their dad and I were immensely proud and, quite frankly amazed, at her quick thinking and brave act," Biron told the Tri-City News about the encounter, noting their family is accustomed to seeing a bear in the area every couple of days.
"She originally thought it was a man coming down the driveway until she saw the bears face and immediately knew what to do."
Biron said the family typically sees the bears roam around at night when they scroll through footage from their home's security camera, but these ones appeared to have been looking for food.
Luckily, Biron said their garbage bins were locked and her husband managed to scare them away.
She hopes her experience can help bring awareness for other families with young children in the Tri-Cities.
"Teaching your kids to immediately go inside and to stay calm in these kind of situations is crucial."
In another recent sighting, four black bears were seen wrestling playfully in Coquitlam's Harbour Chines area.
Metro Vancouver realtor Aman Brah was in the neighbourhood when he noticed, what appeared to be, a tag-team wrestling event in the backyard of a home near Como Lake Avenue and Poirier Street at around 11:30 a.m. on Thursday (Aug. 10).
Brah caught the main event on video, which ended after about a minute. All four exited the backyard ring toward the bushes — likely looking for a post-match snack.
As well, on Wednesday night (Aug. 9), Tri-City News reporter Janis Cleugh saw one bear picking berries off the bush-line of the gravel field near Maple Creek Middle School in Port Coquitlam.
Coquitlam staff recently sent out an alert for an increase in bear sightings in Hockaday and Mundy Parks — not far from the Ranch Park and Harbour Chines areas.
But all of the above sightings are serving as reminders to secure potential attractants, such as garbage, birdseed and fruit.
In a release, Coquitlam environment manager Caresse Selk said it's up to everyone to be bear smart, including local homeowners, businesses and visitors.
"Bears have a strong sense of smell, meaning it only takes a small amount of food to attract them to your picnic or property," she said, noting taking extra precautions can help move to natural forested parts of the city.
"Unsecured garbage continues to be the most common bear attractant in Coquitlam. This is a problem because bears that become used to eating garbage can become unpredictable, and increase the risk to public safety."
Selk added more staff are patrolling the community looking for any carts that might be stored improperly, which, even if it unintentionally attracts wildlife, could result in a $500 fine.
Visitors to Hockaday, Mundy or other Coquitlam parks are encouraged to never leave food unattended, even if it's stored in a cooler, backpack or lunchkit.
Bear encounter update
As of 1 p.m. today (Aug. 11), there have been more than 300 known bear sightings or encounters in the Tri-Cities in 2023 to date.
This includes 156 in Coquitlam — 16 in August thus far, according to WildSafeBC's Wildlife Alert Reporting Program (WARP).
The organization also encourages residents to consider the following tips around bears:
- Keep your garbage in or secured somewhere not accessible to wildlife until the day of collection
- In Coquitlam, homeowners should only place at the curb after 5:30 a.m. on pick-up day
- Keep carts and bins odour-free by freezing smelly garbage and food waste until collection day and regularly cleaning them
- Manage your fruit trees
- Don’t let windfalls accumulate, and pick fruit as it ripens
- If you don’t want the fruit, consider...
- Accessing a fruit gleaning group in your community
- Washing the blossoms off in the spring so the fruit doesn’t set
- Replacing the tree with a non-fruit bearing variety
- Don’t put out bird feeders when bears are active
- A kilo of bird seed has approximately 8,000 calories and is a great reward for a hungry bear
- Keep your compost working properly with lots of brown materials and a regular schedule of turning
- If you have livestock or backyard chickens use a properly installed and maintained electric fence to keep bears and livestock apart
The public is being reminded to also check your surroundings when out in the back country as bears are known to hang out in trees.
What else can I do?
Coquitlam residents or visitors who see wildlife getting into garbage or finding loose attractants are strongly encouraged to report it to the city, Selk said.
If you see a wildlife conflict that could threaten public safety or cause property damage, you're asked to call the BC Conservation Officer Service (BCCOS) at 1-877-952-7277.
For more bear smart information, you can visit the City of Coquitlam's website.