Garbage attracts hungry animals
By Colten Kamlade, Staff reporter
Once again, a bear has been sighted near the Coquitlam campus of Douglas College. The college website posted the warning on September 22, but the bear was first spotted a few weeks prior.
Michael McPhee, a Geography and Environment instructor at Douglas College, commented on the presence of the animal in the area in an interview with the Other Press.
“[Bears] typically avoid people,” he said, “but bears in this area are becoming habituated to [humans] over time.”
On the subject of how to decrease the presence of bears near the school, McPhee said, “They are looking for food, so not leaving food wrappers or scraps of food around outside the campus is important. The college could possibly look at replacing outside garbage bins with bear safe ones with locking lids.”
McPhee also advised students on how to stay safe.
“If someone sees a bear, head in a different direction away from the bear, walking normally,” he said.
The time of year also plays a part in the bear’s behaviour, according to McPhee.
“They are hungry and as the weather cools they are likely wanting to bulk up for the coming hibernation,” he said. “There is likely to be more bears around Hoy Creek as the salmon return to spawn and then die. Bears love salmon. If walking along the trail near the creeks make sure you make noise as you walk. Some people carry bear bells on their packs or bags.”
Hoy Creek runs along the walking trail that is located behind the Coquitlam campus of Douglas College.
Frank Ritcey, provincial co-ordinator for WildSafeBC, a conservation group, said in an interview with the Other Press that Douglas College should “ensure that all garbage on campus grounds is collected before nightfall or is stored in bear-resistant bins.” He added that students should “keep safe by being on the lookout for bears and keeping your distance from them. If you see a bear, don’t scream, and don’t run—remain calm and back slowly away from the bear.”
Coquitlam is no stranger to bear sightings. Last year there were 478 black bear sightings in the first 19 days of September, according to a report by 24Hrs Vancouver. Most of these incidents were caused by bears attracted to garbage that had not been properly disposed of.