District of North Van to review fines after bear's death

District of North Vancouver council may be imposing higher penalties for people who bait bears into peril.

On Sept. 2, BC Conservation Officer Service members shot a black bear, prompting a protest from Deep Cove residents and a public memorial led by Tsleil-Waututh elder Amy George.

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Officers were called to the 800 block of Beachview Drive when residents reported a bear pushing on their window.

Conservation Officer Simon Gravel said the bear had a long history of conflict in the neighbourhood, with many reports of it accessing non-natural food sources and damaging property.

“It was extremely concerning in terms of public safety,” he said. “Unfortunately for such behaviour and level of conflict, relocating a bear like this is not an option for us.”

The bear, a full-grown female, was known around the neighbourhood as Plum, said Nancy Bleck, who had seen the bear turning up at various times in recent weeks.

“She was a good bear. She was a really good bear. She wasn’t at all aggressive,” Bleck said.

Bleck said her family removed their fruit trees and bird feeder and have been freezing their organics since they knew there was a bear around. But she said she is incredibly disappointed in her neighbours who let Plum down.

“This is where I live and I’m seeing a lot of ignorance here,” she said.

Bleck said Deep Cove residents have to stop providing easy meals for bears and they should be ready with pots and pans to make noise every time one shows up in their yard.

“You need to have zero reason for her to be here,” she said. “What we needed to do as a community was a much better job of moving her on, and making sure there was nothing for her to eat around here. That is the best way to protect her. … It’s so basic.”

Christine Miller, president of the North Shore Black Bear Society, said a teenager who lives in the home told her the bear had gotten into their garbage just two nights earlier – and that they had left the garbage tote unlocked.

“You can imagine the steam coming out of my ears,” Miller said.

Bleck said she witnessed the homeowners laughing as the bear’s dead body was being trucked away, Wednesday afternoon.

“That really, really upset me and I realized that we’ve got a long way to go in our education. This is not OK,” she said.

Gravel said he shares Miller’s and Bleck’s frustration when it comes to people leaving their properties full of attractants.

“It’s overwhelming, the level of non-compliance,” he said. “Nobody wants any bears to be shot. It is a last resort.”

Miller expressed dismay and how quickly the society’s outreach efforts to save bears can be negated by just one careless homeowner.

“The North Shore Black Bear Society has been doing education for decades,” she said. “We need enforcement to back up our education. … It’s time for people to pay fines.”

So far in 2020, District of North Vancouver bylaw officers have issued 1,125 warnings and 168 fines to residents for putting out their garbage carts too early. The first offence results in a warning letter issued to the homeowner and any following offences result in a $100 ticket, according to the district.

“We are looking to revise the solid waste bylaw, including increasing fines. Council will be considering the current enforcement approach and amendments to the bylaw this fall,” a statement from district spokeswoman Courtenay Rannard read.

So far in 2020, two bears have been killed in West Vancouver and three in North Vancouver. One was poached and had its organs removed. A bear was killed after being struck by a driver on Highway 1 and COs euthanized another after it had been injured. One bear was relocated a short distance away.

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