Green bin buffet adds to ‘perfect storm’ for bears

Officials fear rise in wildlife encounters in Metro Vancouver due to food waste policy, other factors

Black bears can be attracted to urban neighbourhoods by garbage

Metro Vancouver cities’ move to mandatory curbside pickup of organic food waste has served up a dangerous buffet for bears, creating a risk that more will have to be destroyed.

That’s the warning from Dr. Sara Dubois, the chief science officer for the B.C. SPCA, who’d like to see more cities require locking green bins to avoid attracting wildlife.

“Unfortunately, I just don’t think they thought ahead of rolling this food scrap program out,” she said.

“You’ve got these bins in every community now and they’re generally not locked and they’re basically buffets for bears.”

Port Coquitlam will soon distribute clamp-type locks to homes in areas frequented by bears and Dubois would like to see other cities follow suit.

“That prevents a lot of animals from having to be killed,” she said, adding not all households are able to store bins indoors until pickup day.

She said the mild winter may further increase the risk of bear-human conflict this year.

“A number of bears didn’t get a full winter’s sleep,” Dubois said. “They were out very early. They had almost no slumber cycle. So that’s a real concern for us.”

Meanwhile, she said, several cities have lost provincial funding to hire local WildSafe BC coordinators, who coach residents on how to avoid animal conflicts and remove attractants, as is required under provincial law.

Ideally, she said, there would be more coordinators who speak multiple languages to help newcomers unfamiliar with B.C. wildlife.

“It’s a bit of a perfect storm here, unfortunately,” she said. “The poor conservation officers are going to have to respond to these calls as best they can.”

Bear attractants can include not just garbage, but also bird feeders, compost, fallen fruit from trees, bee hives and increasingly popular backyard chickens.

Unlocked organic waste bins have definitely worsened the bear attractant problem, said Conservation Officer Cody Ambrose, adding garbage-habituated bears generally must be destroyed rather than relocated.

“It really comes down to attractants,” he said. “If bears don’t have access to human food sources and garbage, we wouldn’t have as many wildlife-human conflicts.”

Another problem he pointed to is privately contracted garbage pickup in some cities such as Maple Ridge. Because each home can hire different firms, bears can usually find garbage out on the curb each day on every street, rather than in just one specific zone of the city each day.

Metro Vancouver’s bear hot spots tend to be the the Tri-Cities, North Shore and Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, but they can show up anywhere – one was spotted roaming central Vancouver earlier this month.

Cougars, raccoons also on radar

Conservation officers have also been on the lookout for cougars after some concerning “close encounters” with people on the North Shore and sightings of a cougar family around Port Moody, Ambrose said.

Delta council, meanwhile, is calling on the province to assess the populations of urban wildlife and help municipalities find solutions to reduce conflicts.

“Raccoons are becoming a bigger and bigger problem and nobody seems to be doing anything about it,” said Delta Coun. Bruce McDonald.

He said the furry bandits are ripping up roofs in east Ladner – causing thousands of dollars in damage to homes – in an attempt to dig their way inside.

“They’re looking for nesting sites,” McDonald said. “And of course if they get into your house and have a litter there you can’t take them out until they’re old enough. You get rain coming through the holes in the roof.”

He said a friend in Ladner is “just beside herself” dealing with home-invading raccoons.

 

INTERACTIVE MAP

Want to see where wildlife sightings are being reported in B.C.? Check out WildSafe BC’s interactive WARP map at wildsafebc.com/warp/

Just Posted

Local committee creates opposition strategy for quarry open house

‘Friends of Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs’ to hold info session on same day

Stó:lō Nation prepares to host its 26th annual Children’s Festival

Titled Battle for the House Cup, this year’s event adorns a Harry Potter theme

PHOTOS: Fun in the sun for Paddle Expo 2018 and National Indigenous People’s Day

Harrison’s Rendall Park filled with fun for all ages

Man missing from near Chilliwack prompts massive police operation near Grand Forks

RCMP saying little about the case of Wilfred Kilgren of Popkum who was eventually found in Creston

Chilliwack man arrested after drugs, weapons and cash seized

Suspect had been arrested three weeks earlier in another drug-related incident

VIDEO: Agassiz Community Gardens turns 15

Growing is good for personal and community health

Vancouver Canucks tab Quinn Hughes with No. 7 overall pick in NHL draft

University of Michigan standout was second defenceman picked in first round

Horse put down after hit by car in Maple Ridge, one person to hospital

Accident along 132nd Avenue in Maple Ridge Friday afternoon

Gun, drugs and cash seized in arrest of alleged B.C. fentanyl dealer

Vancouver Island man Brent Connors is facing nine charges in relation to investigation

Jogger spent two weeks in U.S. detention centre after accidentally crossing B.C. border

Cedella Roman, 19, crossed the border while out for a run

PHOTOS: Police rescue baby seal found on rocky B.C. shoreline

Marina Mammal Rescue Centre recommends residents observe from a distance

B.C. woman with severely disabled son keeps getting parking tickets

‘There has to be something they could do’

‘Creep off’ reporting system aims to track street harassment in Metro Vancouver

Text-based hotline launches to collect public reports on where and when harassment occurs

10 feet from home: B.C. grassfire offers stark reminder how quickly blazes burn

Kamloops woman among first people in B.C. to be told to evacuate home this wildfire season

Most Read