Secure Your Waste and Attractants as Bears Go Into Fall Feeding Mode
Port Coquitlam residents are being strongly advised to lock up their waste and remove other attractants as bears go into feeding mode to prepare for hibernation.
Bear activity is up this year – particularly in the weeks since berry season ended and bears turned to garbage and fruit trees for an easy meal.
Calls in September and October about bear damage to carts are more than double those received last year (214 in 2019, 98 in 2018), and the BC Conservation Service has already fielded 125 calls about bears in Port Coquitlam so far this month. Overall this year, the city has received 465 bear-damage calls, compared to 325 in 2018.
Residents and businesses can do their part and avoid a $150 fine by following the city’s garbage regulations:
- LOCK IT UP – secure garbage and food scraps in either a wildlife-resistant enclosure (e.g. garage or shed) or by using the city’s wildlife-resistant cart lock or a lock certified by the BC Conservation Foundation.
- SET IT OUT – cart set-out times are between 5:30-7:30 a.m. on collection day and re-secure your carts by 7 pm.
Properties without secure storage space for carts are required to use a city cart lock, or certified alternative, at all times except for the day of collection. Instructions for proper lock use are available at www.portcoquitlam.ca/lock.
Residents who have not yet received or requested a lock for their 240 or 360 L cart may contact Public Works at email@example.com or by phone at 604-927-5496 to be put on the waiting list for the next shipment in early November.
The city has taken a reasonable approach to enforcement to date that includes education, warnings and penalties – such as fines or suspension of service – when necessary for repeat offences. City bylaw staff have also participated in joint enforcement efforts in bear hotspots with Conservation Service staff, who issue fines of $230.
Given the spike this year in bear activity, Council has directed staff to bring forward a report in the coming months to explore additional options for cart locks and explore further enforcement, including increasing fines.
The best protection against bears is to physically keep waste and other attractants out of reach:
- Keep carts in the garage if possible.
- Freeze meat and strong-smelling food scraps, and wait until collection day to put them into the green cart.
- Feed pets indoors, clean barbecues after 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 metres.
- Block access to small animals (chickens, rabbits) and berry bushes.
The increased bear activity in neighbourhoods across the city is directly related to the availability of food. After bears find a meal once in a garbage cart or from a backyard fruit tree, they quickly learn to check all the homes on a street and teach their cubs to do the same.
These “garbage bears” lose their natural fear of humans and often become aggressive over time, forcing the Conservation Office to destroy or remove them. Relocating bears often doesn’t work as 50 per cent of relocated bears find their way back.
Residents who encounter a bear on local walking trails and in parks or on the streets or in backyards are advised to report the sightings to the Provincial Conservation Officer Service 24-hour toll-free hotline at 1-877-952-RAPP or at www.rapp.bc.ca.
For more information about being bear aware or the City’s garbage regulations, visit www.portcoquitlam.ca/bears or call 604.927.5496. Educational presentations from the City’s Ambassadors can also be requested at www.portcoquitlam.ca/ambassadors.
Manager of Communications & Admin Services
City of Port Coquitlam
Tel 604.927.5335 Cel 604.218.0533