Bear warning issued for Coquitlam park, residents told to leave hot food at home

The City of Coquitlam has put restrictions on food inside Mundy Park after multiple sightings of a bear and her two cubs.

Effective immediately, hot food and barbeques are outlawed inside the park.

Cold and packaged food is still allowed, but residents must keep an eye on it at all times and dispose it in a bear-proof waste bin or pack it back out.

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The city’s parks manager Kathleen Reinheimer said sightings of the bears have increased over the past two weeks, and they’re being attracted to human food.

“There was a picnic that was left in the grass and the bears came, and I think the family moved away and the bears ate their food,” she said. “We’ve had instances like that.”

The BC Conservation Officer Service (BCCOS) has set up a “humane” trap in the park, which Reinheimer assured remains open for all activities and public access.

While summer day camps are going ahead as scheduled, lunch and snack times will be held indoors until the bears are caught.

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“All we’re trying to do is make sure there’s no attractants that keep them from getting attracted to the trap,” she said.

The city added the bears will be relocated once caught, after which the food restriction will be lifted from the park.

The BCCOS issued a warning earlier this year that urban bear sightings were expected to increase this spring and summer.

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Reinheimer couldn’t say whether Coquitlam itself has seen more bear activity, but said the animals’ presence is not uncommon in Mundy Park and other parts of the city.

“There’s always a background population of bears moving through here, and generally it’s not a big deal,” she said.

“Our focus is on making sure we don’t do anything to get used to the idea there might be food for them from humans.”

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Last week, the road leading into Coquitlam’s Minnekhada Regional Park was shut down for the summer because so many bears are crossing the road.

The city is reminding residents to stop and remains calm when they see a bear, and not to scream or run away from the animal.

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When encountering a bear, it’s also best to make yourself look big and talk in a low and calm voice while backing away slowly.

More bear tips can be found on the city’s website.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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