No bruins were killed last year due to garbage, but four were put down
By John Kurucz, Coquitlam Now
The fact that no bears were killed due to garbage accessibility in Coquitlam last year is being met with cautious optimism from the city's top urban wildlife staffer.
"It's a first in my time with the city, but I don't want to toot our horn yet," said Drake Stephens, Coquitlam's urban wildlife coordinator. "It could be environmental conditions, there may have been a lot of berries out for them, and it may have been the luck of the draw in that when they did get shot, they weren't caught in garbage."
Stephens spoke to the Tri-Cities NOW a day after he issued a recap of wildlife activities in the city to council in committee in Monday.
The report notes that four bears were destroyed last year in three separate incidents: one was killed after it killed livestock, while another was destroyed after it became habituated to food deliberately placed out by a resident.
The third incident saw a sow and her cub killed after repeated efforts to build a den underneath a residential home.
"The more people who realize that there are bears in their neighbourhood, the more vigilant those people are being," Stephens said. "When I drive up to the Westwood Plateau or up on Burke Mountain, I'm really happy with what I'm seeing."
Another encouraging highlight coming out of the report is the fact the contractors and tradespeople, particularly in the Burke Mountain area, are instituting a zero tolerance policy for garbage left on job sites. Those problems began to persist in 2010 and 2011, though last year signalled that progress was being made.
"[Contractors] have stepped up to the plate," Stephens said. "They're the ones cracking down on their employees now. We were being the enforcers a year ago, but I see them now as having their own best practices. They're sending people home if they're found to be doing that."
Of the 624 wildlife inquiries fielded by city staff last year, 511 - or 82 per cent - were related to bears. Calls about raccoons (28) and coyotes (24) came in at second and third respectively. Other inquiries reported sightings or complaints around cougars, bobcats, skunks and deer.
Just over 900 calls to the Conservation Service hotline in Victoria were recorded in 2012, compared to 889 in 2011. That year saw eight bears destroyed and four others relocated. More than 1,100 homes received warning notices for improperly stored garbage last year, with only one residence receiving a $500 fine.
As for 2013 plans, Stephens noted that the city will move ahead with printing brochures and other information in a series of different languages, while continuing education efforts in newly developed parts of the city.