Bears Tear Open Cars Looking For Food

"We've Never Seen This Before"

The Province, Bear Hunting Magazine

A black bear roaming the streets of Coquitlam is redefining the meaning of "bait car."

On Monday night, the bear clambered on to the roof of a truck and tore open its canopy door in search of garbage inside.

He then tried to get his paws on an onion bagel locked in the trunk of a car, denting and scratching the bodywork in the process. Muddy paw prints all over the car were a pretty solid clue about what was responsible for the moto-mauling.

"Some [bears] are stepping things up a notch," noted Coquitlam Bear Aware co-ordinator Drake Stephens. "We've never had any problems like this before."

Police are describing the incidents on Coast Meridian Road as unusual.

"We have the occasional sighting, but this is the first I've heard of break-ins," said RCMP Const. Dave Babineau.

Stephens says the suspect, described as male, dark-haired, about 300 pounds and walking on all fours, was last seen in the Burke Mountain area. He believes the bear likely grew accustomed to human food by feeding from unsecured garbage bins.

"An SUV looks like an expensive, hard-to-open garbage can," Stephens explained, adding that bears in Whistler have reportedly opened car doors and twisted house doorknobs in order to get to goodies inside.

Three habituated bears have been shot in Coquitlam so far this year. In late May, again on Burke Mountain, a woman had to brace the door of her home against a bear trying to paw and press the door open.

The home-invading bear, which was later shot, was among a group of five large males spotted in the Burke Mountain area at the time. Stephens said the concentration of males indicated that a female bear was in heat nearby.

Coquitlam council is in the process of changing its bylaws so residents who leave food out and exposed for bears can be fined $500.

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