British Columbia

Coquitlam 'bears' down on residents who leave out wildlife attractants

The City of Coquitlam has ramped up the number of fines handed out this year for people who have left bear attractants out, which includes leaving ripe fruit on trees.

Coquitlam has handed out nearly 60 fines worth $500 each to residents, some for leaving ripe fruit in trees

The City of Coquitlam has increased the number of fines it's handed out this year to people who are leaving out 'bear attractants,' like ripe fruit on trees. (CBC)

The City of Coquitlam has ramped up enforcement for residents who leave out so-called 'bear attractants.'

Infractions include leaving out garbage bins outside of designated hours and failing to pick up fruit that has fallen from trees or bushes on properties.

If we find a bounty of fruit, it's considered a wildlife attractant and we may take action on that situation.- Steffanie Warriner, City of Coquitlam

Steffanie Warriner with the City of Coquitlam says bylaw officers will also hand out fines if the fruit is still attached to the plant but is ripe enough to pick.

"It's an issue that we take quite seriously," said Warriner. "If we find a bounty of fruit, it's considered a wildlife attractant and we may take action on that situation."

Warriner says bylaw officers won't climb trees to check if the fruit is ripe, but those kind of fines generally stem from complaints.

A surge in fines

The city says it has handed out nearly 60 fines worth $500 each this year to residents who have left out 'bear attractants.'

Warriner says this is the first time in a decade of educating the public on the issue that the city has jumped to the more aggressive approach of ticketing.

"We've just been looking at our statistics and just seeing that we're just not seeing enough of an improvement," said Warriner.

"There are too many repeat offenders, there are too many people who are just not understanding the seriousness of the city's messaging."

She adds that more than a thousand warnings have also been given out over the past year.

Last month, the city changed its bylaws to better manage waste and wildlife — and earlier this year, it released a video guide on how to handle 'bear attractants.'

One example includes making sure garbage bins are placed on the curb only between 5:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. on pick-up day.

The city is 'very, very fair'

Warriner admits some practices, like making sure to pick fruit from trees as soon as they're ripe, might be tough to implement for residents.

"There's always an attempt at a conversation before we move to that enforcement," Warriner said.

"We reach out, we figure out what the circumstances are and we're very, very fair in the approach that we take."

Warriner adds residents can always file for adjudication if they feel they were wrongfully ticketed.