Charges against man who fed bear a warning to Tri-City residents

Warning comes as Tri-City residents post their own photos, videos of bears in their yards

Charges against a North Vancouver man whose family members allegedly fed bears in their back yard provide a cautionary tale for those getting too close to their ursine neighbours.

It’s bear season all over the Lower Mainland, including the Tri-Cities where cities are reminding residents to keep their waste bins locked up until pick-up day or risk fines.

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“Unsecured garbage continues to be the most common bear attractant in Coquitlam, and the cause of the majority of bear calls to the city,” Coquitlam reports in a community outreach letter.

This week, a North Vancouver man is accused of intentionally feeding or attempting to feed black bears and of placing an attractant that could attract dangerous wildlife in or near premises where there are likely to be people.

The charges, sworn recently in North Vancouver provincial court, come two years after a video was posted on social media showing a family who appeared to be from the North Shore feeding a mother bear and her cub in their backyard.

The Tri-Cities, as well as Anmore and Belcarra are home to black bears who hibernate in forests and ravines and start looking for food to fatten up in spring and summer. 

VIDEOS RAISE CONCERNS

Blueberries and bears
This is the time when bears begin frequenting the Oliver Road entrance to Minnekhada Regional Park to get at blueberries in Coquitlam farms. - Stefan Labbé

According to the Wildlife Alert Reporting Program, there have been numerous reports of bears getting into garbage and compost in the region, with one bear doing damage to a building.

The prevalence of bears has prompted the moderator of a Port Moody Facebook group to ask people to stop posting videos of bears in their back yards, and instead to safely scare them away so they don’t hang around.

“Rather than filming such videos (and then posting them — which can sometimes come off as entertainment) — a better, more responsible use of time would be to scare these animals away, in the hopes that they don’t become habituated to our neighbourhoods. And of course, lock up garbage and other attractants,” stated Nancy Owens on the Port Moody Discussion Group, where photos and video of recent bear activity have been posted.

PARK ENTRANCE CLOSED

Owens plea dovetails with comments made by conservation officers made earlier this year to the Tri-City News.

“Keep those bears afraid of people at all costs,” Chris Miller said at the time, suggesting people should let bears know they aren’t wanted but at a safe distance.

Meanwhile, local parks are posting bear advisories, including Minnekhada Park in Coquitlam, which is closing Oliver Road beginning Wednesday, July 8, because of the potential for negative human-bear interactions as the blueberry season begins and bears seek access to local farms.

Visitors are reminded that bears are wild, unpredictable and can run faster than humans over any type of ground.

The park remains open and accessible via the Quarry Road entrance.

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