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B.C. bear breaks fence, but no damages paid to neighbour

One person claimed the bear was attracted by garbage. Their neighbour said it was November blueberries.
The Civil Resolution Tribunal has dismissed a claim involving a bear and a fence.

A B.C. man has lost his fight to get compensation for a fence he says was damaged because his neighbour left garbage out that attracted a bear.

Jun Xue and Su Quan Ma own adjacent properties, B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal member Sarah Orr said in her May 3 decision.

In November 2021, a bear broke the fence between their backyards. Xue said Man negligently left her garbage bins unlocked in her backyard that attracted the bear. He also alleged Ma’s tenants regularly trespass on his property.

Xue wanted Ma to pay him $1,575 to repair the broken fence and to build a new one to prevent her tenants from trespassing.

Ma said she was not responsible for the bear breaking the fence. She said the bear was attracted to the blueberry plant in Xue’s backyard and that his dog startled the bear, causing it to fall and break the fence. 

She further submitted that there have been bears wandering through her backyard for a decade and they have never broken her fence before.

Orr did find Ma owed Xue a duty of care to lock the garbage bins; however, Orr said Xue needed to prove causation in the case. Xue said the plants were gone by the time of the incident.

“I am unaware of any bylaw prohibiting blueberry plants in backyards, and I find it more likely than not that the plant would not have been bearing fruit in November,” the tribunal ruled.

“On balance I find it is more likely than not that Ms. Ma’s breach of her duty to lock her garbage bins attracted the bear to her yard,” Orr said.

The tribunal said it had no evidence on whose property the fence sits on. However, it found it is more likely than not the fence is on Ma’s property and Xue has no responsibility for repairing it.

Orr further added that Xue claimed the bear had scattered garbage across his property, which attracted crows. She noted in her ruling that he brought no claim for damages there.

“I find Mr. Xue has not proven that he suffered damages from the bear incident. I dismiss this claim,” she said.

Orr also dismissed Xue’s claim that Ma had instructed her tenants to trespass on his property.