A Burnaby NOW reader woke up to loud crashing sounds at 4 a.m. on Sept. 5 and discovered not a noisy neighbour but a hungry black bear rummaging through the dumpster across the street.
Kathie Dawe lives at the Misty Ridge co-op housing complex on Forest Grove Street at the foot of Burnaby Mountain.
Though this area is a hot spot for black bear sightings around this time of year, this was the first time Dawe has ever seen a bear in Burnaby.
"It was pretty exciting," she said. "He was a pretty big bear. Just gorgeous, too."
The bear took its time, spending at least an hour going back more than once to the dumpster for bags of garbage, hauling them into the roadway, and then lazily lying down to eat whatever edible contents it could find.
Dawe woke up the rest of her family, who sat at their window watching and snapping photos of the wild animal.
She also called the RCMP, who said they would alert the conservation office, though no one attended before the bear eventually wandered off. Dawe said she is concerned the bear will return now that it's had a taste of leftovers.
"It's rather sad because now this guy's into garbage and he'll probably be back here. And that means that he'll end up being killed, right? That's the sad part about it. I just wish he'd stay up the mountain," she said.
If the bear returns, the first step the conservation office would take would be to provide information on bear safety and education about proper garbage storage, said inspector Chris Doyle, with the B.C. conservation officer service.
Should that not deter it, the next step would be to tag and relocate the bear. Only if the problem escalates would the bear be destroyed, he said.
In July, Burnaby conservation officer David Cox told the NOW he'd received calls of several black bear sightings, but that the bears were not causing any trouble.
He said bear sightings around Burnaby Mountain are an annual occurrence, and people should be sure to keep dogs on leashes while hiking or walking on the mountain, and remember to keep garbage securely stored so bears cannot access it.