The B.C. Conservation Officer Service has set a live bear trap in a popular Coquitlam park after unconfirmed reports of a bear wandering through.

The reports came from a couple that was camping in a tent in Coquitlam River Park near the Coquitlam River Tuesday night.

According to conservation officers, the couple had some food and some garbage at their campsite, which attracted the bear around 7 p.m. Inspector Murray Smith of the Conservation Officer Service told CTV News the man came out of the tent to see the bear rummaging through the couple's things.

"The bear had taken possession of some of the garbage and some of the food," Smith said. "The bear allegedly knocked the man down and then left."

The man had no injuries after the alleged altercation, and the bear did not return to the scene Tuesday night, Smith said.

After investigating on Wednesday, conservation officers could not confirm that reports of a bear sighting were accurate. Indeed, Smith said it was possible the reports were "fabricated."

"There's been some information provided to the RCMP that in fact there was no contact with a bear from this person that was staying in the tent, and there may not have been a bear at all," he said. "Until we can confirm that the information is untrue, we're going to continue with determining that this has been a place that a bear that has lost its fear of people and was conditioned to human foods has come to."

In a tweet, the City of Coquitlam reported the sighting and reminded the public not to leave food or garbage unsecured in the city. 

Signs were posted in the park Wednesday warning of a bear in the area.

Regardless of whether this bear sighting was real or fabricated, Smith said it's safe to assume that there are bears in the city.

"This park always has bear activity, and it always will have bear activity," he said. "Coquitlam has the highest number of reports of bear sightings in all of British Columbia."

The city's wildlife management website reminds residents to manage food waste on their properties in order to avoid attracting bears. Among other steps, residents are advised to:

  • Keep meat and strong-smelling food scraps in the freezer until collection day
  • Secure green bins with wildlife clips when it is not collection day
  • Store garbage cans and green bins in areas that are not accessible to wildlife
  • Keep pet food inside
  • Pick any fruit that may be growing on their properties

Failure to properly manage waste in Coquitlam can result in a $500 fine.

Anyone who encounters a bear is advised to remain calm, speak in a low and calm voice to the bear and back away slowly.