Nearly 60 residents in Coquitlam, B.C., have been fined for leaving out “bear attractants”—including fruit hanging from backyard trees.
Not picking ripened fruit from the trees on your property is right up there with leaving out your garbage bins, and in Coquitlam, it could cost you $500.
“It’s an issue that we take quite seriously,” city official Stephanie Warriner told CBC News. “If we find a bounty of fruit, it’s considered a wildlife attractant and we may take action on that situation.”
It’s a especially serious after a female black bear attacked a 10-year-old girl in the nearby Port Coquitlam on Sunday. The bear cub involved in the attack has been taken to a rehabilitation centre, the mother has been killed, and the young girl—who was bit and dragged from a popular hiking trail—is now in the hospital with critical injuries.
Although investigators are still gathering details about the incident, residents told reporters that the bear and her cub had been eating from compost bins in the area for months, and had become quite comfortable around people.
Like many cities throughout Canada, Coquitlam has a bylaw in place that restricts residents from leaving their garbage out overnight, and earlier this year, the city released a video reminding residents how to manage their trash and other bear attractants. They also helped design and manufacture wildlife-resistant garbage cart locks, which were distributed to households in bear-prone areas last year.
But according to reports, the city isn’t seeing any signs of improvement when it comes to dealing with bears, and that’s why officers are getting more aggressive about handing out tickets.
“There are too many repeat offenders, there are too many people who are just not understanding the seriousness of the city’s messaging,” Warriner told CBC. She also assured reporters that they’re more than fair—although bylaw officers have handed out 60 tickets, they’ve given about 1,000 warnings.
“There’s always an attempt at a conversation before we move to that enforcement,” Warriner said.
But implementing the law could be tough—bylaw officers aren’t about to start climbing trees to check whether or not the fruit has ripened. Warriner says those fines are more likely to stem from nuisance bear complaints. At that point, unfortunately, the bear already knows where to look for food.