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‘A fed bear is a dead bear:’ City of Coquitlam overhauls waste system amid B.C. Conservation warning

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Boyce

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service has a message for you: it’s imperative that you don’t leave anything outside as bear season approaches.

Sgt. Todd Hunter says that while the bears are still sleeping, there are some who don’t go into hibernation during the winter.

He says planning ahead now by managing your waste is a way to prevent the animals from getting hooked on poor food sources, reducing human-wildlife conflict.

READ MORE: Human-bear conflicts in B.C. have nearly doubled since 2016

Hunter says it’s important for bears to stay in the wild until the green grass grows.

“So if it’s not around yet, we’re gonna get these bears into poor food sources and some of the times the bears are just not even getting out of that poor food source throughout the year,” he said.

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READ MORE: Neighbourhood series: Being bear aware in the Tri Cities

Coquitlam’s mayor says that’s why starting Monday, its waste management system is getting an overhaul.

“A fed bear is a dead bear,” said Richard Stewart.

“The decision was made that, let’s send the garbage trucks every morning to that portion of the city that has the most bear interactions, so that gets picked up first. And in the afternoon they’re picking up the garbage in a corresponding zone in the southwest of the city where there really isn’t the kind of bear issues that we see in the northeast.”

READ MORE: Province destroying too many habituated bears says wildlife expert

He says the goal is to prevent having a buffet ready for the bears before spring arrives.

“Rather than having garbage sitting out on the curb an average of perhaps five hours, it’s now gonna be much less than that, perhaps an average of two or two and a half hours on average per household,” Stewart said.

Stewart says when it comes to the city’s waste management, one of the important policies is to make sure bears don’t get shot due to people’s carelessness.

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To find tips to manage your food sources, including pet food, compost, barbecues, fruit and berry bushes, and bird feeders — you can visit the B.C. COS website.