Don’t Be a Bear Target! Secure Your Waste to Protect your Home and Neighbourhood
One meal from your backyard or waste cart is enough to bring a bear back again and again. And bears are smart! If they get a meal from one garbage cart, they’ll check every cart in the neighbourhood, and teach their cubs to do the same.
Once bears associate food with humans, they can lose their natural fear of people and become aggressive. This puts you at risk and can lead to the bear being destroyed.
Did you know? Feeding bears is illegal under BC’s Wildlife Act.
In response to rising bear activity throughout the community, the City implemented new measures and changes to the Solid Waste Bylaw in March 2020 to keep neighbourhoods and bears safe, including:
- Making free waste cart locks available for all three sizes of carts;
- Beginning year-round weekly organics collection
- Increased fines of up to $500 for not securing garbage and green waste properly (see more below under How You Can Keep Bears Away);
- Undertaking a bear hazard assessment, one of the criteria for Bear Smart certification; and
- Continuing to work one-on-one with residents in areas of high bear activity to educate them on storage and locking options.
What Attracts Bears?
- Food scraps
- Beverage containers
- Barbecue grills
- Compost (in piles, not composters)
- Pet food and bird seed
- Grease barrels
- Petroleum and chemical products
How You Can Keep Bears Away
Follow the City regulations to avoid a $500 fine
As of March 2020, a fine of $500 may be issued for each instance the following regulations are not followed. Click for more information.
- LOCK IT UP – secure garbage and food scraps in either a wildlife-resistant enclosure such as a garage or shed OR by using a wildlife-resistant lock certified by the BC Conservation Foundation (such as Critter Guard or the City’s cart locks).
- SET IT OUT – set out your unlocked carts at the curb between 5:30 am and 7:30 am on collection day and re-secure your carts by 7 pm.
- Keep carts in the garage if possible.
- Lock your carts, even when empty, except on collection day.
- Freeze meat and strong-smelling food scraps, and don’t put them into your green cart until collection day.
- Feed pets indoors, clean barbecues after each use and keep freezers indoors or locked up.
- Don’t store strong-smelling garbage (diapers, grease barrels) or scented products (pop cans, toothpaste tubes, hairspray, mouthwash, etc.) outside.
- Harvest fruit, berries and vegetables before or as they ripen, and clean up fallen fruit.
- Remove bird feeders from April to November, or suspend them higher than 3.3 m.
- Make sure you’re using your City cart lock correctly. Click here for instructions and a video.
- Sprinkle backyard composters with lime to keep odours down, and don’t compost meat, fat, dairy, oils, fish, unrinsed egg shell or fruit. Put them in your green cart instead.
Avoiding Bear Encounters
You may encounter a bear on local walking trails and in parks, or increasingly, on the streets or in backyards.
If You Encounter a Bear:
- Stay calm, stand still and assess the situation. Remember: bear attacks are uncommon.
- Speak to the bear in a calm, firm voice. Your voice helps identify you as a human.
- Back away slowly and NEVER run – running may trigger a pursuit.
- If a black bear attacks, fight back and use bear spray if you have it. Do all you can to let the bear know you are not easy prey.
Be Cautious on the Trails:
- Travel with someone else or a group.
- Be alert where bears may not be able to see, hear, or smell you: on twisting trails, in dense brush, near running water, or when the wind is in your face.
- Avoid wearing strong perfumes.
- Make noise (talk loudly, clap or sing) to let the bear know you are there.Make your own noisemaker by putting rocks in an empty water bottle and shaking it often.
- Keep children close at all times – don’t let them wander ahead or lag behind.
- Avoid wearing headphones while walking or jogging, especially if alone.
- Watch for fresh bear signs (droppings, tracks, scratches on trees, overturned boulders, or smashed logs).
- Keep your dog on a leash at all times.
- Never approach a bear – maintain a distance of at least 100 metres.
- Bear spray can be an effective deterrent when used properly.But don’t carry it unless you know how and when to use it. Wind, spray distance, rain, freezing temperatures, and product expiry date can all influence bear spray effectiveness.
Reporting Bear Sightings
Report all bear sightings in the community – in yards, on local trails, in parks, on streets, eating garbage etc. – and all encounters with dangerous bears to the Provincial Conservation Officer Service:
- 24hr hotline: 1.877.952.RAPP (7277)
The information helps for the planning of future bear-related services.
- All bear sightings- Provincial Conservation Officer Service – 1.877.952.7277 (RAPP)
- City waste collection services – 604.927.5496
- Infractions/fines – bylaw enforcement – 604.927.5440