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Bear put down after being caught eating from Coquitlam man’s fridge

WATCH: Deadly year for bears in B.C.

The Conservation Officer Service (COS) is reminding people not to leave their doors open, after a black bear was caught rummaging in a Coquitlam man’s refrigerator on Saturday.

It happened just after noon at a home on Muirfield Place in the Westwood Plateau neighbourhood, where a resident had left the door open to keep cool.

LISTEN: CKNW’s Simon Little speaks with acting Sgt. Jack Trudgian about the bear found eating from a man’s fridge

Acting Sgt. Jack Trudgian said the man was on his couch when he heard a noise, and startled the bear who ran off.

He called the RCMP, who in consultation with the COS made the decision to put the animal down.

“It’s fine that a bear may walk into a house, but how does he know to open a fridge?” Trudgian said.

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“So it’s most likely that this bear has done that before, and it’s learned behaviour. So, for a bear to walk into a house and manage to open a fridge he’s probably done it before because he realizes that a fridge has food in it,” he said.

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“It could do it again, and possibly someone [could] get hurt.”

Trudgian said this time of year, the COS gets between 20 to 30 bear-related calls a day, and that it is particularly important for people living near green belts to be aware of the animals and keep their homes secure by closing doors and windows.

“It gives an opportunity for that bear to get into a house and learn what structures are because bears look at homes and they don’t know what they are,” he said.

“And once they figure out that structure has food in it, you know they’re going to find every house they can get into.”

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WATCH: Bear captured on camera ransacking house for 6 hours

Bear captured on camera ransacking house for 6 hours
Bear captured on camera ransacking house for 6 hours

Residents living near wildlife are asked instead to use air conditioners, fans, or other ways to keep cool, Trudgian said.

Trudgian said the service does not like to destroy animals, but needs the public’s help to ensure bears do not become habituated.

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He added that the COS is constantly reminding residents to take extra care to secure anything that could attract bears, including trash, fruit trees and even barbecues.

Earlier this month, the COS said that human-bear interactions have nearly doubled between 2016 and 2017, with the service fielding about 8,900 bear-related calls since April 1 this year.

It is an offence under the BC Wildlife Act to feed or attract wildlife, which can become habituated to human food sources.

Last month, the COS said it had already issued nearly two dozen tickets in the Lower Mainland alone for failing to properly secure trash.

In May, the COS destroyed 119 black bears deemed to have become habituated to human food, the highest number for a single month in the last six years.