B.C. conservation officers ask Highlands residents to keep their garbage inside or in a secure structure

Dead Bear Walking in Highlands

B.C. Conservation officers received more than 70 calls in October, compared to the typical 20 to 30 calls annually about bears in Highlands.

A garbage-munching bear lurching through Highlands is creating a buzz.

B.C. Conservation officers received more than 70 calls in October, compared to the typical 20 to 30 calls annually.

“It’s pretty much one bear,” said conservation officer Peter Pauwels. “This bear is hooked on garbage and there is no shortage of it.”

The bear hits up to eight houses a night, travelling along Millstream Road, Finlayson Arm Road and several side streets.

Conservation urges residents in Highlands to secure all garbage and keep it indoors or another secure structure, only putting it out when pickup is due.

“Putting a rock on top of a can or a bungee cord won’t work,” Pauwels said, adding the bear has knocked apart weaker refuse structures. “It’s hitting multiple targets and trying to fatten up. Nothing has more calories (for a bear) than garbage.”

Trapping hasn’t worked so far, as the food used to lure the animal isn’t working – there is too much easily accessible garbage elsewhere, Pauwels said.

“This is frustrating, the bear is going to end up getting put down,” Pauwels said. “People are going to keep killing bears if they don’t secure their garbage. This isn’t going to go away and it will just be another bear next year.”

Conservation officers put down another garbage-eating bear in June.

The bear is deemed habituated and residents shouldn’t get between it and garbage, Pauwels said. As well, children should not be outside alone.

By law residents are required to secure garbage and B.C. Conservation is considering enforcement including issuing tickets. The District of Highlands also plans to work with the conservation officers to spread information about household garbage practices.

“Highlanders enjoy observing the plentiful wildlife that exists here and residents would be upset to learn that human behaviour could in any way contribute to the potential euthanization of animals such as this bear,” said Mayor Jane Mendum. “We encourage all residents to secure their garbage cans in a sturdy outbuilding or garage and in doing so, help to prevent habituation of the increasing number of bears that seasonally travel through Highlands.”