Garbage is the number one attractant for bears in the Mission area.

Bear conflicts continue in Mission

Despite efforts to educate the public about food attractants, statistics show that bears are still coming into conflict with humans.

Conflicts between bears and humans continue to be an issue in residential and commercial areas of Mission.

As a result, WildSafeBC is asking council to create a new waste management bylaw that will contain clauses to fine people who place their garbage outside too early.

Garbage is a huge attractant for bears and despite an educational campaign launched in 2010 by WildSafeBC (known then as Bear Aware) there has been little change in the public’s attractant management habits.

“Garbage is the number one attractant in Mission,” said Rebecca McMurray.

A WildSafeBC community coordinator, McMurray told council last week that bears become dangerous when they are “food conditioned,” meaning the majority of the bear’s food is coming from something other than natural food sources.

“Once they become food conditioned they often become human habituated, which means they’ve lost their natural fear of people. That’s when they become a safety issue,” she said.

Despite efforts to educate the public about food attractants, statistics show that bears are still coming into conflict with humans.

Seven bears were destroyed in Mission in 2011 and four were killed in 2012. While no bears were reported shot in 2013, the number rose to six bears killed in 2014.

So far in 2015, four bears have been put down in Mission.

“Garbage needs to be stored inside and placed on the curb the morning of garbage day, not the night before.”

She wants a bylaw that would fine residents who place garbage outside before the morning of pick-up, hoping it would motivate people to comply.

If trash has to be placed outside, she suggested a bear-proof container could be used.

Mission Mayor Randy Hawes said council is willing to look at a proposed bylaw. However, he had some other concerns.

“We have those rot pots (for compostable waste), which, of course, the bears would target, and they aren’t bear-proof.”

The bins were handed out by the district in June of 2011 in an attempt to divert garbage from the landfill and promote composting.