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Watch: Bear licking plastic cup at Coquitlam park shows how dangerous litter can be for animals

Pack up what you bring or throw it into a bear-proof garbage bin, says Metro Vancouver park official.

The road to Minnekhada Regional Park should not be a dumping ground for plastic litter.

That's the warning after a bear was spotted licking a plastic cup along Quarry Road — the only road into the popular Coquitlam park after Oliver Road was closed for the summer earlier this month due to bear activity.

Zhen Han was on the road to the park with his wife on Saturday (June 25) when he spotted a large adult bear initially turn away from the temptation, but came back to tear open the cup and lick it clean before walking back into the woods.

Han subsequently posted the video on social media, urging people not to leave litter in the area.

"Please properly dump garbage! Please do not throw plastic drinking cups on roads," Han wrote, adding the drinking vessel looked like either a coffee cup or a bubble tea cup.

"Please throw them in garbage bins, for us and for the bears."

A spokesperson for park operations at Minnekhada echoed Han's comments and said it's important for people to pack up what they carry into the park and there are bear-proof garbage bans at all the trail heads to dump trash.

Patrick Smith with Metro Vancouver regional parks told the Tri-City News efforts have been made to educate people about the importance of not leaving out bear attractants.

There's a website, as well as regular visits by park officers who speak to people about being bear aware.

"We want to make sure garbage stays in the garbage cans, that’s where it belongs," Smith said.

"Any bear that is attracted to garbage can become a problem bear over time, we want to get ahead of that and make sure wildlife doesn’t have access to garbage."

Bear activity tends to pick up in the park during blueberry season.

Smith said there have been fewer bears in the park because of the recent cold spring, but the numbers could pick up this summer.

Meanwhile, the popular Minnekhada Park Lodge is scheduled to host numerous weddings and other social gatherings throughout the season.

Bear activity doesn't dissuade people from wanting to rent the beautiful building for their events and Smith said an on-site caretaker makes sure there is no food waste left around to attract bruins.

In fact, he notes garbage is stored indoors.

"I think that we’ve done a really good job managing attractants and most times you would drive up to the lodge you wouldn’t even see a bear because they are sticking to their natural habitat."

As well, staff put up bear-in-area signs if one has been spotted on a park trail.

Among the tips on Metro Vancouver's website are the following:

  • Never approach or feed a bear
  • Stay back 100 metres
  • Keep your dog leashed
  • Make noise as you go
  • Avoid wearing earbuds

If you encounter a bear, stay calm and slowly back away, the website states.

For more information about bears and safety, you can visit Bears in Metro Vancouver or WildSafeBC.