The Village of Anmore is taking steps to become more bear aware after a resident was attacked Monday morning.
Ken Hogue was walking his dog early Monday when he was knocked to the ground by a black bear. The bear was shot after RCMP and conservation officer arrived at the scene. Her three cubs were tranquillized and sent to a wildlife rehabilitation centre.
On Tuesday evening, resident Tracy Green asked council to implement a bear education program, while also improving bylaws and fining violators.
"We've created a situation where we're no longer coexisting with wildlife and bears. We've created a problem where these bears are now coming into our homes, threatening residents who are walking dogs," Green said.
"Just in the past week, besides the event that took place [Monday], there was another dog that was sent to the vet hospital with some serious injuries.
There's been people with their cars broken into.
"This isn't normal bear behaviour. This is habituated bear behaviour that's caused by problems that we've created or not addressed over the past few years."
Green suggested the village commit to a bear awareness program and create a bear-human conflict management plan that focuses on reducing attractants.
She would also like to see more information shared among community volunteers, village staff, municipal waste collectors, conservation officers and RCMP.
As well, Green proposed that the village develop a bear-proof solid waste plan that includes multifamily dwellings, along with related bylaw enforcement.
"I know that a lot of people enjoy seeing wildlife in the community, as do I. I'd like to make a point of saying that the bear with the three cubs, the reason we see her so often is because she's habituated. We shouldn't be seeing her so often. We shouldn't be seeing her wandering down the street. We shouldn't be seeing her in front of the dumpster. We shouldn't be enjoying those interactions with her," Green said.
"The reason she was shot [Monday] is because she's gotten too used to being close to us . It's our fault that we have these types of habituated bears in the community. It should be a freak occurrence that we see a bear. That's the way it used to be."
Mayor Heather Anderson said discussions are already underway about requiring bear-proof garbage containers, possibly by next spring. For those who would like the containers in advance, they are for sale at Village Hall.
As well, Anderson said staff are currently updating the garbage bylaw, which will be back before council at the next meeting on Sept. 13.
"At that time, the bylaw will be revised. It hasn't been updated for a number of years. And one of the main significant changes that will be done at that point is that people will be no longer be allowed to put their garbage out just in a garbage bag," Anderson said.
"They're going to have to have it in some sort of container that's contained and sealed in some way. That will become a requirement when we finalize the bylaw in mid-October."
However, Anderson agreed that increased education is also needed, particularly after Monday's events.
"We need to get some education out there right away. We were proactive, but obviously this means we need to be more proactive," she said.
"There are still quite a few bears in our community and they're still wandering around. I know that there's another mother with two or three cubs that I'm aware of also in our neighbourhoods, and I don't want the same thing to happen again."
Conservation officer James Kelly supported the move to start a bear aware program in Anmore. As well, he encouraged residents to contact the B.C.
Conservation Officer Service if they spot a bear.
"If you call us, we do keep a record of where calls come in and we monitor bears," Kelly said.
In response to a call, the conservation officers might provide advice over the phone or perhaps attend the scene in person. They also have the option to issue a dangerous wildlife protection order, Kelly added.
"If we know that a place is an issue and . we have some time, we can go out there and order them to replace their dumpster or lock it up," he said.
Council voted unanimously in favour of creating a bear awareness program, using up to $1,350 from contingency funds.
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