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Bear roams through Pitt city centre

  - The News/files
— image credit: The News/files

A bear was put down Tuesday after spending four days wandering streets in the centre of Pitt Meadows.

The 110-kilogram bruin got hooked on tasty snacks of garbage and kept returning to the city centre for easy meals.

Shawn Stevens was just heading out to walk his dogs when he heard a bunch of people yelling on 193A Avenue. He turned around and saw the bear right behind him, heading towards his carport.

Scared by the shouts, the bear darted across Stevens’ yard and eventually strolled down a path between two streets.

“Me and my wife always had this joke about what I would do if I saw a bear here,” said Stevens.

His wife joked, “What’s the bear going to do? Walk down Harris Road, go to the 7-Eleven, get a Slurpee and come here.

“He didn’t have a Slurpee but he did come here,” Stevens added, with a laugh.

“I’ve been living here for 12 years and I’ve never, ever seen anything like it. I would have bumped right into it.”

Ridge Meadows RCMP and conservation officers tracked the bear to Hoffman Park, where it was cornered and tranquilized.

Sgt. Todd Hunter with the Conservation Officers Service said the bear was removed from the area and put down because he had become habituated to garbage.

“It was popping up all day long and causing a concern,” Hunter added.

“The issues started getting progressively worse.”

Hunter believes the bear made it’s way to Pitt Meadows from Maple Ridge, most likely along the railway tracks. But seeing a bear in Pitt Meadows’ dense urban core is rare.

“There’s not a lot of green space for them to hide, so when they do get caught up in there, it becomes quite a safety risk,” said Hunter.

Most sightings and conflicts take place on the fringes of Pitt Meadows, near berry fields. The conservation service reports there have been 43 calls for human-bear conflict in Pitt Meadows since April.

Most of the calls come from Maple Ridge, which logged 437 calls in the same period.

The calls are lower than Coquitlam, which saw 1,000 calls since April, but on par with Port Coquitlam (481) and Port Moody (420).

In Maple Ridge, garbage continues to be the main cause of conflict.

No coordinated municipal pickup makes the issue worse in Maple Ridge, said Hunter.

“We have garbage out there almost 24 hours a day with all these random pickup schedules,” he added.

“We don’t mind saying it. It’s very difficult for us as a Conservation Officer Service to either enforce or provide educational activities.”

So far this year, three bears in Maple Ridge have been put down by conservation officers. The neighbourhoods logging the most calls are Gilbert Drive in Silver Valley, as well as Albion.

Bears are currently fatting up for winter hibernation, so Hunter expects calls to increase.

“The calls are going to go through the roof in the next little while. So the biggest thing is making sure you don’t have any attractants,” he added.

That means everything from cleaning dirty barbecues, picking fruit trees and removing bird feeders.

Dan Mikolay, Wild Safe B.C.’s coordinator in Maple Ridge, believes residents are slowly heeding the district’s calls to be more careful about when they put garbage outside.

For the past three years, the district has run a Bear Aware program and has a bylaw that prohibits residents from putting garbage out before the morning of pickup.

It’s all about education, said Mikolay.

“Our goal is to reduce the amounts of conflicts with bears.”

• For tips on how to live in harmony with bears, visit bearaware.bc.ca.

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