Bear conservation group wants to double fines for leaving garbage out
Advocates in Maple Ridge are calling for higher garbage fines in the hopes of reducing temptation for wildlife after a spike in bear deaths this year.
The Maple Ridge Bears Group spent Sunday afternoon in the Cottonwood neighbourhood, working in the rain.
Volunteers scaled two trees to pick apples.
"When someone has a fruit tree and they're not able to pick it for whatever reasons, it's an attractant for the bears. We don't really want bears finding their source of food in the neighbourhood," said Susan Zanders of the Maple Ridge Bears Group.
The fruits of their labour end up at the Critter Care Wildlife Society in Langley. Volunteers drive food out every week.
"There's 18 cubs at Critter Care. They're orphaned. Their moms were shot and so those apples are going to critter care to help feed them," Zanders told CTV News.
Critter Care is a non-profit organization that takes in everything from squirrels to bears.
"It's a really heartwarming feeling for people just to step up and do something that they don't have to be doing," said Breanne Glinnum, of Critter Care Wildlife Society.
"We need to look after our wildlife. They're going to be here. We need to keep them here. We're the ones that are taking away from their environment, so if we can provide them with something, then let's do that."
It's just one of many initiatives the group has taken on. They're also planning to make a case at city hall next week.
"We're asking for the bylaw attractant fine to be increased to $500," Zanders said.
The increase is double the current fine in Maple Ridge, but on par with those in Coquitlam and Port Moody. Burnaby now has designated "bear zones," which restrict when garbage cans can be left out.
"I think the onus falls on the community. I think if everybody did their part, we wouldn't be calling conservation," Zanders said.
The number of euthanized bears has skyrocketed this year. There were 67 deaths just last month, up 500 per cent from the previous August.
"The death situation is caused by people in the community not being aware of what they're doing," she said.