Port Coquitlam is taking a carrot and stick approach in the hopes of getting residents to lock up their garbage so bears stay away.
With reports of bear conflicts on the rise and two bears killed in the city due to repeated issues in PoCo neighbourhoods, a combination of free cart locks and fines is being used to reduce bear issues.
As well, starting next week the city’s ambassador will be out doing waste cart audits to ensure residents and businesses are locking up waste and removing other wildlife attractants.
The city also plans a bear hazard assessment in a bid to get Bear Smart status.
FEMALE BEAR DESTROYED
“The regulations have been in effect for more than a decade and it’s time to get serious,” said Coun. Steve Darling.
The initiatives come after conservation officers put down a bear last weekend after it tried to enter a home, scaring residents who called 911.
Insp. Murray Smith said hazing had not worked to discourage the sow from trying to access the home a second time, so she was destroyed and her cubs taken to a Langley rehabilitation centre.
“We hazed the bear,” Smith told The Tri-City News. “Unfortunately, the bear was very focused on getting into the freezer where it got the reward.”
He hopes the city’s efforts to encourage people to lock up waste carts and remove other attractants will result in fewer conflict bears this summer.
“We’re looking forward to long term benefits for the community and for bears,” Smith said.
To report a human/bear conflict, Smith advised people to all the Report All Poachers and Polluters line at 1-877-952-RAPP or #7277 on the Telus Network.
FREE BEAR LOCKS ISSUED
In a press release issued Wednesday, a city spokesperson said Port Coquitlam will continue its enforcement of waste bylaws and has already issued 40 fines since Jan. 1, including one for $500.
At the same time it is making its cart locks available and since March has distributed 3,500 additional locks.
Residents who would like a cart lock can contact Public Works at 604-927-5496 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the waiting list.
The first lock is free, and replacements are $45. Residents can also contact public works at any time for a free third arm for their existing locks for added security.
Bylaw officers have responded to 235 calls regarding bears so far this year while conservation officers have received 183 calls about bears in PoCo since the beginning of April.
This year’s urban bear population appears to be holding steady, with most bears still accessing food in the wild because rains have resulted in an abundance of natural nourishment.
For the full city press release, including up-to-date information about bear programs, visit https://www.portcoquitlam.ca/media-releases/port-coquitlam-ramps-up-bear-safety-measures/