Protecting our bears, one garbage can at a time

By District Staff on Thursday, Sep 6, 2018

Last year alone, about 600 bears in BC were euthanized after interactions with humans, and in most cases, food or food waste was involved. Because a bear that is reliant on human food can no longer be rehabilitated or relocated, it must be destroyed.

We're working in partnership with the North Shore Black Bear Society to help bring down these unfortunate numbers by reducing the available sources of human food across the District.

Reducing food sources for bears

A prime source of human food for bears? Garbage and organics carts, which tempt them into residential areas, especially if containers are left out for long periods of time. 

That's why our Solid Waste Removal Bylaw limits how early garbage and organics carts can be set curbside on collection day. The bylaw requires that garbage, food waste, yard trimmings, and recyclable material be placed out for collection no earlier than 5:30am and no later than 7:30am on designated collection days.

Reducing the time that food waste sits curbside means fewer reasons for bears and other wildlife to wander into our neighbourhoods looking for easy snacks. 

Making the rules more effective

To help make this bylaw as effective as possible, we ran a pilot program this summer in select District neighbourhoods.

Those living within the pilot area were sent a letter reminding them of the requirements for setting out waste. Any resident who received that letter but continued to place their containers out before 5:30am or left their containers curbside for longer than 18 hours after collection received a second warning letter.

If, after receiving the second letter, a resident continued to put their collection out before 5:30am, they were subject to a $100 fine (and if they placed their containers out after 7:30am, they risked not having their materials collected).

Promising results

The data we collected during the pilot shows that it has had an extremely positive impact.

In the pilot area, approximately 18% of households were putting their carts out at incorrect times at the start of the pilot period. By the end of the four-week pilot period, that number had been reduced to just 2%!

Armed with this data, we are now considering the possibility of adopting this tactic District-wide, to help keep human-bear interactions to a minimum.

Other steps you can take

In addition to paying attention to when you put out your waste —​ ensuring that you're following the rules laid out  in the bylaw — there are other steps you can take to make food waste less tempting to wildlife.

Wrap your food scraps

Use old newspapers — which are permitted in your organics cart — to wrap your kitchen scraps before you place them in your cart.

Freeze your food scraps

Freeze food scraps such as meat, bones, and skin, and add it to your green cart on the morning of your collection.

Layer your organics

Place your food scraps between layers of garden and yard waste in your organics cart to help minimize odours.

Keep your organics cart clean

Rinse out the inside of your organics cart occasionally to help prevent food odours from building up.

Learn more about managing your containers and waste

Protecting our bears and other wildlife is up to all of us

Living with wilderness in our backyards is one of the biggest blessings of living on the North Shore, but it comes with a unique set of responsibilities. With the great outdoors so close to home, it's important to remember that we share these spaces with wildlife. It’s up to each of us to take measures to keep our neighbourhoods safe for all.

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