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May 24, 2017 Return to Headlines

Be Bear Smart in Coquitlam – No Excuses

by Colleen Smith |

COQUITLAM, BC May 24, 2017 – Do you make excuses for not securing your waste or for setting your carts out at the wrong time? These excuses could cost you as bears are waking up and the City of Coquitlam is beginning its annual education and enforcement campaign.

2017 marks the 12th year for the City’s dedicated bear education and enforcement program. Coquitlam was recognized for its efforts in February of this year with an official Bear Smart community designation from the provincial government. 

However, with that designation there is an ongoing responsibility to make sure all property owners are doing their part to keep bears safe and prevent human-wildlife conflict, which includes but is not limited to:

  • Keeping Garbage and Green Carts securely stored at all times, except on collection day;
  • Seperating your waste and putting food scraps in the Green Cart, which is collected weekly, and not the Garbage Cart;
  • Making sure attractants including, pet food, bird feeders and ripe fruit are not accessible to wildlife; and
  • Only putting out Garbage and Green Carts after 5:30 a.m. on collection day – not the night before.

These rules and more are explained at www.coquitlam.ca/bearsmart. All properties in Coquitlam are required to ensure that garbage and attractants are inaccessible to wildlife! Property owners found allowing wildlife to access attractants even unintentionally will receive a $500 fine.

Bear Activity in Coquitlam
Last year was a record year for bear activity in Coquitlam. The City received 1,380 calls related to wildlife in 2016, which is a 154% increase over the preceding four-year average. Of those, 270 were related solely to bears (14 per cent more than the 2012-2015 average), and 492 were related to unsecured garbage – which is the most common bear attractant.

Some of the increase has been attributed to heightened public awareness of the importance of making Coquitlam’s neighbourhoods bear smart. However, enforcement statistics from 2016 show that too many people are still not getting the message. More than 1,600 warnings and 300 tickets were handed out last year to those breaking the rules.

Ongoing Focus on Education and Enforcement
For 2017, the City will continue its existing enforcement strategy that includes patrolling neighbourhoods, responding to complaints and achieving compliance by applying a variety of tools, such as warning stickers, notices of violation, non-compliance letters and $500 tickets.

The City will also continue to focus on public education including user-friendly materials, social media outreach, school programs, workshops, and displays at community events such as: Get Outside Day in Mundy Park May 27; the Teddy Bear Parade & Picnic June 11; Coquitlam Celebrates Canada Day July 1; Neighbourhood Nights and other events.

Once a bear becomes habituated to eating garbage, it often becomes a “nuisance bear” and may be destroyed to protect public safety. It is up to everyone to do their part to be Bear Smart and City staff are always available to help provide tips and advice on how you can help make your property – and especially your garbage – less attractive to bears.

More Bear Smart information can be found at www.coquitlam.ca/bearsmart.

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Media contact:
Steffanie Warriner
Manager Environmental Services 
604-927-3536
swarriner@coquitlam.ca