Opinion: Green bin draws first bears

The first day of the SCRD’s new Green Bin Era exposed a couple of potentially major flaws in the organic waste collection program that went full rural this week.

Anna Wright, who lives off Lockyer Road in Roberts Creek, wrote the SCRD Tuesday to share her unpleasant experience, attaching photos of a family of black bears – a mother and her two cubs – that were drawn to the new plastic bear feeder like a magnet, and found it to be easy pickings.

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The pictures tell the tale. The determined mother bear strutting her stuff, the gambolling cub getting into the act, the discarded green bin after it had been dragged into the woods and the contents spread all over, the locking device lying on the ground as if it had been torn off like a piece of cheap plastic, which it is.

The scary thing is that Ms. Wright did everything correctly.

“After carefully freezing our food all week as per usual, and keeping it inside, as your flyer says, we put it at the road for 8 a.m. as instructed,” she wrote to info@scrd.ca. “By noon our frozen foods had long since thawed just in time for our local bear family of three to get the whiff of it.”

With not a little sarcasm she added: “It’s so great that these bins are not very big so that the two cubs can quickly learn the art of bin thievery from their mother and thus broaden the scope of this family’s ‘take’ every week from hereon out. And in the years to come.”

Ms. Wright said she realized it was the first week of the program and suspected the collectors were delayed “by the volunteer inspectors snooping into everyone’s bins.” Whether or not that was the case, up until Tuesday’s incident, she said, her area had done a pretty good job of managing the local bear population by keeping attractants under control and not putting their garbage cans out until 11 a.m.

“In the 40 years we have lived here, no bear has EVER been attracted to our garbage cans! Until now…”

Like many rural residents, Ms. Wright said she wants to do her part to lessen the burden on the landfill. Her humble ask is to be given a better idea of when collection will take place, so “we might have a hope of doing this in a bear safe way. As it stands now, your supposed bear safety system is actually putting our bears in greater danger, not less.”

She’s right about the last point, but the idea of staggering times for setting out green bins would never work for people who have to put out the garbage when they leave their homes in the morning to go to work.

In any case, Tuesday was Day 1 for Roberts Creek and Elphinstone north of Highway 101, and all of West Howe Sound. Wednesday is Halfmoon Bay. Thursday is Roberts Creek and Elphinstone south of the highway. We’ll let you know if we hear any more stories like Ms. Wright’s. Perhaps it was just a freak thing.

I mean – it’s only highly concentrated food waste deposited in a flimsy plastic bin, left to sit out for hours in rural areas that are home to a rich assortment of wildlife.

What could possibly go wrong?

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