‘The bears are awake. And hungry’: it’s the season for dumpster diving bears

Click to play video: 'How to be bear aware'
How to be bear aware
WATCH: How to be bear aware – Aug 14, 2016

It’s is a sight that may be all too familiar to anyone with a forest as their backyard.

Someone leaving what amounts to bear bait out overnight, something Port Moody resident Sandra Niven snapped a photo of.

“The bears are awake. And hungry. This was a locked bin,” tweeted Niven along with a photo of a toppled over green garbage bin.

Bears are not an uncommon site in the Tri-cities.

“In the last several weeks we’ve probably had less than a dozen,” said Julie Kanya,  Coquitlam’s Urban Wildlife Coordinator. She says the number isn’t a lot, but prime bear season isn’t until mid-April and if residents aren’t securing their garbage, they may wake up to a mess they won’t want to clean up.

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

A news release by the City of Coquitlam says that in 2016 the city received almost 1,400 calls relating to wildlife, 270 of those were bear related and 472 of them were related to unsecured garbage.

READ MORE: City of Coquitlam issues double the number of fines for leaving garbage out compared to 2016

Tips to survive the bear season:

Kanya says residents are asked to place their garbage on the curbside any time after 5:30 a.m. on their scheduled pick-up day to reduce tempting a groggy bear.

This is in fact a bylaw in Coquitlam that can result in a fine of up to $500.

If you are keeping your garbage bin outside overnight, she recommends cleaning out the container to ensure left over food scraps don’t attract any critters that may be lurking outside your home. And if you have any fruitful trees in your backyard, make sure you are picking up the fallen fruit.

“It is spring and the bears are waking up, so sometimes people kind of forget that they need to be securing their garbage and other attractants during the winter when there is less activity.” Kanya said.

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

The city does have wildlife resistant clips on bins around the community to help prevent bears and other critters from digging through the trash, but Kanya says if you give a bear enough time with a clipped bin, it’ll crack it open.

“As you can imagine a black bear is a very large, powerful animal, they can range between 300 to 600 pounds,” Kanya said. “But if it’s [a garbage bin] being stored outside all night long, the bear has a lot more time to pry at that.”

The city is holding an event to teach community members who may not want to wake up to mess like the one captured by Sandra Niven, how to survive the bear season.

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