photo supplied Elizabeth Gray, Tri-City Photography ClubPatrick Penner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

With the arrival of spring, B.C.’s bear families are waking up. 

Consequently, a flurry of seasonal reminders on safe practices are being sounded from the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS) and local municipalities. 

“With the arrival of spring, the public is reminded it’s more important than ever to ensure attractants are properly secured to help avoid wildlife conflicts,” a COS representative wrote in an email, noting they are already receiving reports of sightings across B.C.

The Tri-Cities (including Anmore and Belcarra) had a total of 2,416 human-wildlife conflicts with black bears in 2022, according to COS.

Coquitlam recorded 1,127 conflicts; Port Coquitlam recorded 830; Port Moody, 399; and Anmore and Belcarra recorded 41 and 19, respectively.

Six enforcement actions were taken against local residents, all in Port Moody and Coquitlam.

These included one violation ticket, three warning letters, and two dangerous wildlife protection orders – the latter requiring the removal or containment of compost, food, food waste or domestic garbage.

Nearly 14,000 black bear conflicts are reported every year, forcing offices to euthanize more than 600 bears, according to the COS’ 10-year average statistics.

The COS said they need help to minimize these types of conflicts, and the easiest way is secure attractants around residential properties.

Steps should be taken to safely store garbage and compost, not leave pet food outside, move bird feeders indoors and clean barbecues.

Bears that become accustomed to easily accessible food sources create a risk to themselves and residents, according to COS.

More information on securing attractants can be found at the COS or WildSafeBC websites.

The COS stated they will investigate and take enforcement action against anyone feeding wildlife, including bears, cougars, wolves and coyotes.

Wildlife conflicts can be reported to the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline at 1-877-952-7277.

More than 30,000 human-wildlife conflicts were reported through the hotline in 2022.

This week (March 26 to April 1) is Bear Awareness Week in Port Coquitlam, and Coquitlam counts itself as one of 10 official Bear Smart Communities in the province.

Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, and Port Moody have both put out warnings this week. Each municipality has bylaws with fines of up to $500 for failing to secure attractants on properties.

Coquitlam’s bylaw officers handed out 843 warnings and 123 tickets in 2022, a significant decrease from the 4,914 warnings and 450 tickets handed out in 2017, according to the city.

By Patrick Penner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 30, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Tri-Cities Dispatch   Coquitlam, British Columbia

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