Bears hunting garbage in Lake Cowichan as bins not secured

It’s a beary busy bear season at the Lake

A bear gets into a garbage bin in the parking lot of the Wellington condos, across from the A&W on Oct. 13. (Al Lowe photo)

A bear gets into a garbage bin in the parking lot of the Wellington condos, across from the A&W on Oct. 13. (Al Lowe photo)

Lake Cowichan resident Ron Mills is concerned about a nuisance bear constantly raiding the dumpster beside an area townhouse complex, “creating a huge mess in and adjacent to a pristine ‘Class A’ stream…and putting residents at risk.”

Mills said he’s reached out to both the Town of Lake Cowichan, which he believes owns the dumpster, and to Madill Road Estates strata management and neither the town nor the townhouse complex is willing to clean it up.

“Nobody wants to take responsibility for the bear,” Mills said in an email to the newspaper. “It’s being ignored by the relevant parties.”

“It’s just a horrible situation every year the bears get into it. The town had steadfastedly refused to do anything and we can’t seem to get anyone to do anything about it. It is a real concern for everyone involved,” he said later by phone.

Mills said he’s reached out to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans over the matter and feels like the situation’s “sort of” been resolved. “Hopefully they’re going to do some changes,” he said.

Lake Cowichan Mayor Bob Day said he’s well aware of the issue — as it’s one that’s been going on for more than a decade.

Day did note solutions are being worked on.

“I’ve received a message from the president of that strata complex and that is their garbage can,” Day noted. “The town has an arrangement to pick it up.”

With dozens and dozens of residents putting their garbage in the dumpster, it gets full.

“If they want more pickups they should tell us,” said the mayor, adding “why they don’t secure it is beyond me.”

Nevertheless, the strata management has been talking to the superintendent of public works and “they’re working on a solution” Day confirmed.

The bigger picture, Day said, is that it’s quite simply bear season and residents around Cowichan Lake need to be aware of what it means to live in a rural area.

“I’ve watched Facebook and every night there’s something,” he said. “‘They were in my pear tree. They were in my apple tree.’ It’s just bear season and we have to pick our fruit and we have to store our garbage properly.”

Much like the increase in cougar sightings over the summer, Day believes there’s just not enough food in the forest and the wildlife is coming closer to civilization to find it.

“If we have garbage and fruit in our town they’re going to come looking for it,” he explained. “The only thing we can do is make sure that we pick all the fruit, or have it picked, and store our garbage securely, which isn’t outside your back door.”

There’s a certain privilege when it comes to living in a rural area: the sense of community, the peace and quiet — and the proximity to the wonders of nature, including the wildlife.

“The elk walk around downtown, the deer walk around downtown, the bears walk around downtown, and I’m not even making it up,” Day noted. “The more we are getting more urbanized out here, the louder the voices are going to be [about the wildlife] but us locals, we just live with it.”



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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