It seems that there are more bear sightings in Campbell River than ever, and the British Columbia Conservation Officers Service (BCCOS) wants the city to do something about it.
BCCOS Sgt. Mike Newton spoke to city council on June 27 proposing a bylaw that would prevent bear attractants (mainly garbage) from being put out the night before pick up, which would reduce the chance that bears get into garbage.
He said the bylaw would make it an “offence to place household domestic garbage outside the night before pick up. Garbage should only be placed curbside on the morning of garbage pick up.”
“The Conservation Officer Service is working with Campbell River and many other communities in the North Island to ensure municipal bylaws mirror the Provincial Wildlife Act when it comes to managing attractants,” he said.
In February, Greenways Land Trust volunteers cleaned out a section of Simms Creek that was full of bear attractant garbage. At the time, Greenways representative Katie Lavoie said that “It’s bad for bear safety. If they get habituated, then they’re not good candidates for relocation. Unfortunately, every year bears get destroyed because they get habituated.”
Bear encounters — it may go without saying — are bad for humans as well. Greenways board member James Vasilyev said that he’s noticed an uptick in the number of bear sightings in Campbell River.
“There’s a lot of bears in the city,” he said. “A lot. It’s a problem because it has negative outcomes for people and bears alike when there’s as many bears around as there are. They’re hungry, and they inevitably come into contact with people.”
Newton says that even if there is a bylaw enacted, protecting bears will still need public buy-in. That would include consistent regulations, education, effort and self-assessment.
“The situation in recent years has gradually improved with public awareness around this issue, but we need a concise, coordinated effort from all citizens within these communities to make sure attractants are properly managed and locked up, thereby inaccessible to bears,” he said.
After Newton’s presentation, council moved that staff look into the proposal and bring it back at a future date.