The Thorsen Creek Landfill bays are cleared marked for waste disposal - putting household waste in the wrong bin can result in unintended consequences (Caitlin Thompson photo)

Bear gets into garbage at Thorsen Creek Landfill after waste disposed into wrong bin

A grizzly bear accessed garbage that was put in the wrong bin and ended up outside the electric fence

The Thorsen Creek Landfill is asking the public to please abide by the rules after a grizzly bear got into a bag of household garbage that was dumped into the wrong bin at the transfer station.

“A number of bags of household garbage were dumped into the demolition bin; these in turn were transferred to the landfill site but outside of the electric fence area,” said CCRD Operations Manager Ken McIlwain. “On July 29 a grizzly bear was seen eating garbage from the bags and chewing on food-contaminated cardboard.

“Obviously this is a safety concern from a number of positions; our employees, the general public and waste haulers, and the safety of the bear. The landfill is just a short stroll away from 4Mile or Grant Road, and the bear could continue to pursue this type of food source and become a danger to the public.”

McIlwain said there is no evidence any bears have breached the electric fence that surrounds the landfill area.

There are several bins at the transfer station and each has a designated purpose. There are two bays with four green bins for household garbage and there are three other bays with large blue bins for metal, demolition (renovation) debris, and clean wood waste.

“Problems seem to arise when people fail to separate their materials prior to arriving and deposit materials in the wrong bins,” said McIlwain. “We have a system in place and it’s imperative that people follow it otherwise material that should be inside the electric fence is left on the outside where it can be accessed by bears.”

McIlwain said the best thing residents can do to avoid this is to separate their waste before they arrive, and ensure the person that is hauling it to the landfill knows where it goes.

“Since COVID-19 the landfill has been busier than ever as people have taken this time to clean out their basements, garages, and yards,” said McIlwain. “It’s hard for our staff to keep up with everyone coming and going, so it’s really important to sort your waste before you leave the house.”

Local Conservation Officer Hana Anderson said that the CO service can and will issue fines under the Wildlife Act if people fail to dispose of their waste properly.

“Garbage and food packaging contaminated with food residue is a known attractant and will bring bears near people,” said Anderson. “Placing or leaving anything that can attract bears in any location that the Wildlife Act applies is an offence and a $230 violations ticket, and/or a Dangerous Wildlife Protection Order, can be issued requiring the responsible party remove or secure the attractant by a set date, or face a violation ticket of $575.”

Anderson said the hard work of those at the landfill shouldn’t be underestimated, and that residents need do their part.

“From what I’ve seen landfill staff and contractors spend a lot of time maintaining and monitoring the bear fence to stop bears from gaining a reward from our rubbish,” said Anderson. “It’s mind boggling that people would be dumping garbage outside the bear fence, and against the directions of staff or signage at the landfill.”

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