Influx of bears visiting Coquitlam

Image via Thinkstock
Image via Thinkstock

Increase in bears leaves many concerned

By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor

Residents in Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam have been getting increased visits from furry predators.

While most encounters with the bears have been from a distance and without incident, some have undoubtedly caused fear in residents. Back in August, a 10-year-old girl was mauled and left in critical condition by a black bear in Port Coquitlam. The bear was with her cub, and was later destroyed.

“We want to make sure that we keep bears wild, and we don’t let them get too comfortable in our communities,” conservation officer Murray Smith told CBC.

Aside from Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam being near bear habitats, garbage cans and green bins are attracting bears into neighbourhoods. Both municipalities are using bylaws to try to curb the bear problem. In Coquitlam, garbage’s may only be put out after 5:30 a.m. on garbage day, and need to be collected again by 7 p.m. Anyone who violates this bylaw can be subject to a $500 fine. In Port Coquitlam, residents must use a bear resistant garbage can, or place a bear resistant lock on it.

Yet even by delaying the time that residents put out garbage, and what container they put the garbage out in, some residents have still had some close calls. Alexandra Verano-Bibby described a close encounter she had with a bear to CBC. Verano-Bibby, along with her young son, was disposing of some green bin items in her yard when she encountered a bear. Despite trying to scare the bear away, it started to approach the garbage can. Verano-Bibby and her son carefully evacuated their backyard, and watched the bear ransack the garbage from the patio.

She told CBC that she sees two or three bears come into her yard, which borders Hyde Creek, weekly, although making loud noises will usually deter them. After the last encounter, Verano-Bibby is convinced that the bear-proof bins aren’t doing enough.

Verano-Bibby told CBC: “He’s still out there somewhere, and he likes your garbage, and if he wants to get into your green waste bin, he will. Those locks aren’t enough.”

Janet Klopp, a long-time resident of Coquitlam who is used to encountering bears, wrote the Tri-City News to give advice to those uncertain of what to do should they encounter a bear.

Klopp said to exercise caution, and not to underestimate the intelligence of a bear, equating it with an 11-year-old human and saying that the bears can easily figure out how to disarm traps. Bears who are rummaging through human garbage are often starving.

Those who encounter a bear are warned to try to avoid surprising the bear, and to calmly and slowly back away.