The Tri-Cities have seen a significant jump in bear sightings reported to Wildsafe BC so far this year.
According to data from the organization’s Wildlife Alert Reporting Program, there have been 725 reported bear sightings in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody so far in 2019, up 31.1% from the 553 in the Tri-Cities last year.
Port Moody has seen the biggest spike, rising 137%, while Coquitlam’s numbers have jumped 45.9% and Port Coquitlam's have fallen 25.2%.
But Verne Kucy, Coquitlam’s environmental projects manager, said the reported numbers do not necessarily mean there has been an increase in bear activity. One bear can generate a significant number of calls, he said, adding that reports of bear sightings to city officials have been relatively stable over the last three years.
Tickets issued under the city’s solid waste bylaw, which seeks to limit the amount of time garbage is left at the curb so as not to entice bears, have also dropped, he added.
“People have a lot of awareness in Coquitlam,” Kucy said.
While the rise and fall of bear numbers often depends on many factors — including access to food sources and natural population cycles — controlling garbage is the most important factor in avoiding conflicts with the animals, he said.
“We don’t want people to forget about it and get complacent,” he said. “Garbage is still number one — it is the number one issue that can be controlled.
Conservation officers are currently working to capture a family of bears that has been frequenting Mundy Park for the last month. Last week, the city said several trails have been closed and barbecuing was prohibited until a sow and two cubs could be captured.
Port Moody has also had its share of bear activity so far this year.
According to data available through Port Moody’s online open data portal, 92 tickets have been issued to residents who have left their garbage carts out for pickup prior to 5:30 a.m. Another nine residents received tickets for leaving their carts unlocked on non-collection days.