They may look cute and cuddly, but bears are certainly not.
And residents planning a trip near Minnekhada Regional Park hoping to catch a glimpse of the bruins that populate the area should think twice, and stay away.
That's the message from some of the blueberry farmers who live and work near the park.
In fact, the area has become such an attraction to the public, the City of Coquitlam, Metro Vancouver and the blueberry farms have agreed to shut down Oliver Road for the month of August.
Sid Kwantes, owner and operator of Gaskin Farms, said the issue is not particularly new, but suggested people aren't getting the message just how dangerous the situation can be.
He said the road was closed for the safety of both bears and the public.
The road may be opened up once the berry-picking season is over.
"The public was actually standing on the road blocking them [bears], and the farmers were there trying to scare them out of their fields, and so the bears are caught between the farmer and the public and that's not good," Kwantes told The NOW, adding it will likely be the bears that ultimately pay the price.
Though the road closure, which started last week, has helped ease the situation, even signs haven't deterred some residents from keeping out.
Kwantes noted some vandals have gone so far as to destroy warning signs in the area.
"I'm just really disappointed, we've done well to try and get along with the community and the park and people don't seem to get it," he said.
"We've done nothing but try and help this issue along, and for people to dump on us and start vandalizing stuff, it just makes us more militant."
And he warned the farms could decide to close access to both the road and the dike permanently if the public doesn't get the message.
Over the years, the number of bears near the park continues to grow.
Kwantes noted 20 years ago, the bears would only be spotted near the river and none would be in the blueberry patch.
He said this year is about as bad as any for bear sightings.
Kwantes acknowledged that the blueberries are attracting the animals to the area, but suggested his farm has security measures in place to keep them out, and has taken necessary steps to reduce the number of attractants, like removing garbage cans at the farm.
"We're doing our part," he said, but suggested the public and even the media bear some of the responsibility for the problem.
"I personally don't want to see any bears killed," he added.
Though bruins have been a particular problem near Minnekhada, the number of bear conflicts is actually down in the Tri-Cities compared to last year.
Since April, there have been 397 bear complaints in Coquitlam to the province's Conservation Officer Service hotline.
In Port Moody there have been 280 bear complaints, with another 244 in Port Coquitlam.
Cody Ambrose, a conservation officer, noted the number of calls is down from last year, but suggested conflicts are starting to pick up.
He explained the height of the season tends to hit in September and then again in November as the bears try to fatten up before hibernation.
Ambrose noted conservation officers in the Tri-Cities are also hearing about an increase in the number of bobcat sightings.
So far, eight bears from the Fraser Valley region, which stretches from Port Moody all the way to Manning Park past Hope, have been relocated, while another 13 have been destroyed.
In some cases, the bears were hit by cars and needed to be euthanized.
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