The bears are back in town

The Lower Mainland has barely thawed out from a cold and snowy February, but bears are already waking up from hibernation and causing problems in residential neighbourhoods.

In Coquitlam, the city hopes to cut down on conflicts between bears and humans through some policy changes they will be implementing.

A new garbage collection schedule will go into place as warmer spring temperatures arrive, which the city hopes will limit the bears being attracted to local neighbourhoods.

"We're always trying to find ways to minimize the time garbage is at the curb so we're not attracting bears into our community by spreading out a smorgasbord of smelly foods," Mayor Richard Stewart told CTV News.

The planned changes, which will being March 12,  are simple, but the mayor hopes they will be effective. 

"The program works by essentially taking each half of the program and splitting it into morning/afternoon," Stewart said.

Morning collection will focus on areas of the city with the high incident rates of human-bear conflict, while afternoons will take care of less prone neighbourhoods.

Conservation officers support the plan, especially in light of the fact that they've had to destroy 15 bears in the Tri-Cities since last April.

"It's predominantly because of bears in garbage, garbage being left out by residents," conservation officer Todd Hunter said.

The plan will roll out in full force, with people who are careless with their garbage getting fewer warnings and more fines, Hunter said.

"We're taking a hard line on this… We've warned the public enough."

– with files from CTV Vancouver

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