One Coquitlam resident thinks conservation officers are too quick on the trigger when it comes to dealing with bears in the Tri-Cities, but conservation officers say it's just business as usual.
Dennis K., a resident who didn't want his last name used, lives at Pacific Street and Guildford Way in Coquitlam, next to Hoy Creek. For the past week he says he's heard gunshots around 1 a.m. on a couple of days from conservation and RCMP officers taking shots at bears in his neighbourhood.
"It's disturbing," he said. "I love animals. I think if you're just shooting these things - if someone just phones in about a bear, it seems like they're just going to go out and shoot it."
Conservation officer Sgt. Steve Jacoby said there have been a few incidents with bears in recent weeks, but no more than usual for this time of year, and staff are still following the same guidelines and policies they have for years.
"Sometimes what people can hear and get confused about is the use of cracker shells," Jacoby said. "They're used to scare the bear away. They sound like a gunshot, but it's not a bullet."
He also said there have been no bears destroyed in Hoy Creek in September or October, which means it was most likely a cracker shell the resident heard.
When it comes to bear activity, a bear will only be destroyed if it becomes a "public safety issue," he said.
Coquitlam Bear Aware coordinator Drake Stephens said he hasn't seen an increase in bear shootings lately.
"I know one was taken away from Coquitlam River on the weekend," he said. "It did follow a jogger and it was interpreted as being aggressive." Every year towards the end of September there's an increase in bear activity, Stephens noted.
"They're trying to put on extra weight. It's almost the third week of September every year when you really notice a surge in bears seeking food."
Stephens and Jacoby urge residents to secure their garbage, pick fruit off the ground if they have trees and make sure there's no leftover food from bird feeders, dog food or barbecues left unsecured outside.
"At this time of year bears will be feeding as much as 14 to 15 hours a day," Jacoby said.
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