A bear that ambled past Pajo’s Fish and Chips in Port Moody’s Rocky Point Park during the dinner hour Sunday evening was all in a day’s work said the restaurant’s manager, Lois Graham.
“It’s not the first time they’ve been around here,” she said. “They’re not aggressive. They mind their own business.”
Matt McCrady, who was working the counter at the popular outdoor restaurant on Sunday, said the adult-sized black bear walked out from behind the restaurant past a man sleeping on a park bench beside the path to Rocky Point Ice Cream and headed towards the kids spray park.
He said other than one young boy that ran into a nearby bush to get out of the way of the oncoming bear, nobody in the park seemed too panicked by the bear’s presence. Some of the restaurant’s guests even followed it at a safe distance until it disappeared into bushes along the shoreline of Port Moody Inlet, he added.
In an email to The Tri-City News, a witness who saw the bear said park goers need to be more careful when disposing of their food and garbage at the park so it doesn’t attract bears.
“I’ve seen craft beer clients try and throw empty beer cans in Pajos’ garden,” said Jay Peachy, who was playing music in the park when he spied the bear near the restaurant.
He also sent an email to the restaurant’s proprietors, alerting them that “some customers do leave food lying around that the crows, geese, and hopefully not hungry bears could eat,” and that signs to remind them of the presence of bears could help alleviate the visits.
Todd Hunter, with the BC Conservation Officer Service, agreed prevention is the best way to prevent conflicts with wildlife. That means encouraging businesses and property owners to properly secure their garbage and foods that could attract hungry animals looking for an easy meal.
“You have to expect there to be wildlife around,” Hunter said. “We don’t want to be destroying the wildlife.”
Hunter said his service received 536 reports of bear sightings in Port Moody last year, slightly fewer than the previous year. He added if property owners are negligent in storing their garbage and food, conservation officers do have the power to issue tickets.
“Prevention is the key,” he said.
The BC Conservation Officer website recommends people who encounter a bear stay calm and back away from the animal rather than running away. It also says the bear should be allowed a clear escape route.
The city of Port Moody has had a Bear Essentials program to help minimize bear attractants, while also raising the awareness of bear behaviours through public education since 2000.
In April, city council directed staff to begin preparing a bear management strategy including a social marketing education campaign as well as the placement of bear-proof communal waste collection bins in various neighbourhoods bears are known to frequent.
To report a bear sighting call 1-877-952-7277.