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Port Coquitlam urges residents to recycle pumpkins amid nearly 110 October bear encounters

Experts say the smell of discomposing gourds can attract the creatures into local neighbourhoods.
halloween pumpkins getty images
Pumpkins. | Getty Images

Bears may not necessarily travel far to hibernate and could burrow under stumps and logs in the mountainous terrain and greenbelts.

That's according to the BC Conservation Officer Service (BCCOS), noting some may still be looking for food sources to fatten up as much as they can before the first whisp of winter.

With pumpkins set to be on display this weekend for Halloween on Sunday (Oct. 31), the urge to collect and eat them is likely to grow strongly for bears.

In Port Coquitlam, residents are being encouraged to recycle their gourds as soon as spook-tacular activities come to an end, or when they're no longer needed, "along with their other food scraps and yard trimmings" a news release explains.

"The pumpkins and other green cart materials go to a regional composting facility, where they are turned into soil amendments that are sold to farmers and gardeners," the city states, noting placing compost materials in a green cart also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

"If a quarter of households that carve a pumpkin place it in their green cart, thousands of pounds of material is diverted away from the landfill."

PoCo also lists the following ideas for those looking to stay green for Halloween:

  • Like squash, pumpkin is edible and tasty – and the seeds can also be roasted. Look for recipes online.
  • Chop your pumpkin into pieces and place them in your backyard composter or bury them in your garden. 
  • Re-use and recycle as much as possible when making costumes and decorations, rather than buying new. 
  • Supply your children with reusable bags for collecting candy.
  • Give out treats that have a minimum of packaging.  
  • Unwanted unwrapped candy can also be dropped into the green cart rather than the trash.
  • Collect plastic candy wrappers in a bag and return them to a participating Recycle BC Depot.

For more information, you're encouraged to visit the waste collection page on the City of Port Coquitlam's website.

OCTOBER BEAR ENCOUNTER UPDATE

As of 1:30 p.m. today (Oct. 30), WildSafeBC has recorded 204 known bear sightings or encounters across the Tri-Cities throughout October, including 108 in Port Coquitlam the last four weeks.

This is according to its Wildlife Alert Reporting Program with nearly 50 per cent of incidents involving garbage ransacks.

The organization also encourages residents to consider the following tips around bears:

  • Keep your garbage in or secured until the day of collection. Garbage is the number one attractant cited in reports to the provincial hotline
  • Manage your fruit trees
    • Don’t let windfalls accumulate, and pick fruit as it ripens
    • If you don’t want the fruit, consider...
      • Accessing a fruit gleaning group in your community
      • Washing the blossoms off in the spring so the fruit doesn’t set
      • Replacing the tree with a non-fruit bearing variety
  • Don’t put out bird feeders when bears are active
    • A kilo of bird seed has approximately 8,000 calories and is a great reward for a hungry bear
  • Keep your compost working properly with lots of brown materials and a regular schedule of turning
  • If you have livestock or backyard chickens use a properly installed and maintained electric fence to keep bears and livestock apart

The public is also being reminded to check all of your surroundings when out in the backcountry as bears are known to hang out in trees.

Bear encounters - WildSafeBC Oct1-30 2021
More than 200 known bear sightings or encounters were reported in the Tri-Cities between Oct. 1-30, 2021. WildSafeBC Wildlife Alert Reporting Program