COQUITLAM, B.C., June 23, 2020 – More and more Coquitlam residents are doing their part to keep bears away, according to new statistics.
Analysis of a recent cart audit and other data from Coquitlam’s Urban Wildlife Program shows a marked increase in public compliance with City regulations intended to deter bears – namely, securely storing garbage, food waste and other wildlife attractants, and only putting out Garbage and Green Carts on the morning of collection day, rather than the night before.
At the same time, Coquitlam continues to generate one of the highest volumes of calls to the provincial Conservation Officer Service.
Public Participation Makes a Difference
A report presented to Council Monday credits the public’s cooperation in securing attractants and following set-out times – along with the City’s consistent education and enforcement efforts – with the steady decline in warnings and tickets being issued in recent years.
- Last year the City issued 59 per cent fewer warnings and 38 per cent fewer tickets than in 2018. The change from 2017 to 2019 is even more significant: 78 per cent fewer warnings and 80 per cent fewer tickets.
- Results from the City’s fourth annual night-time cart audit last month found 99 per cent were setting out their cart on the morning of collection day rather than the night before, compared to 98 per cent last year and 88 per cent in 2017.
- The audit also revealed that, while the 378 who set their carts out too early were distributed throughout the community.
The 42 per cent increase in bear calls from the public from 2018 to 2019 also points to the increased public awareness of the issue, the staff report noted.
Keeping Bears and Neighbourhoods Safe
Unsecured garbage continues to be the most common bear attractant in Coquitlam, and the cause of the majority of bear calls to the City.
Bears that become habituated to eating garbage can become aggressive and often must be destroyed by the Conservation Officer Service. A number of bears had to be destroyed last year to protect human safety, including a family of three bears that kept returning to the Chineside area to feed.
Residents are encouraged to continue to take action to keep bears safe and prevent human-wildlife conflicts by:
- Keeping garbage and food waste securely stored at all times;
- Separating waste and putting food scraps in the Green Cart;
- Making sure attractants such as pet food, bird feeders and ripe fruit are not accessible to wildlife;
- Freezing smelly food scraps until collection day;
- Cleaning carts after collection to minimize odours; and
- Only putting out Garbage and Green Carts after 5:30 a.m. on collection day – not the night before.
Property owners that allow wildlife to access attractants – even unintentionally – are subject to a $500 fine. These rules and more are explained at www.coquitlam.ca/bearsmart.
Enforcement and Education in 2020
The City’s Urban Wildlife Staff will continue the many of the enforcement and education activities that proved successful in 2019, including neighbourhood patrols, targeted mailouts and signage, online how-to videos, , and door-to-door and social media outreach.
Given the financial impact of the pandemic, staff are making every attempt to obtain voluntary compliance through warnings and education before issuing tickets as a last resort.
Staff will also plan to review City bear regulations this year to ensure they adequately cover multi-family, industrial, commercial and institutional properties.
Supporting Our Community During the Pandemic
The City of Coquitlam is here to help, with these resources:
- Visit www.coquitlam.ca/csrp to learn about the City’s Community Support and Recovery Plan, which is providing immediate and long-term support for the non-profit sector, businesses and residents;
- Visit www.coquitlam.ca/spirit for a free library of activities for all ages, including fitness, arts and culture, outdoor activities and ways to connect with your community; and
- Visit www.coquitlam.ca/covid19 for updates on City services and initiatives and COVID-19 health resources.
Coquitlam residents and businesses are also encouraged to follow the City of Coquitlam on social media (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and download the CoquitlamConnect mobile app for up-to-date City information.