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Garbage bin decals in Hope promote human coexistence with wildlife

New decals explain the difference between grizzly and black bears, and cougars and bobcats
New educational decals are being added to wildlife-proof garbage containers in Hope. (Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee)

In a continuing effort to keep bears from wandering into human habitat, the Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee (HMBBC) is getting sticky. The organization has two new decals being produced at Erica Press, and they’ll be appearing soon on wildlife-proof trash containers.

One of the decals explains the difference between black bears and grizzly bears. Black bears are common to the area and the first one of 2022 was spotted just last week, but HMBBC chair Lydia Koot said she comes across many people, particularly those new to Hope, who are surprised about that and don’t know the basics of being bear aware.

“Residents who’ve lived here a few years, they’ve gotten really good, but the last three years we’ve had huge turnover of new folks moving in from Vancouver, and they’re really bad,” she said. “We’ve also had such a huge amount of people from Alberta here for the Trans Mountain (pipeline). They rent locally and really don’t seem to give much thought about the bears and taking care of the garbage because they end up leaving after six months or something. In the last year we’ve had quite a few problems.”

Koot always encourages established residents to tap new neighbors on the shoulder and let them know what’s what.

“But you’re never done with it,” she added with a laugh.

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The second HMBBC decal explains the difference between bobcats, which are often spotted in Hope, and cougars, which are not. There’s a substantial size difference between the two. Koot laughingly describes bobcats as “glorified house cats,” and she’s surprised by how often people mistake them for their far larger cousins.

While these decals are new, decals are not a new strategy for the HMBBC. Some containers are already adorned with decals providing info on how to co-exist with wildlife, and what bears do and do not eat. The decals are supplemented by other education tools, such as setting up an HMBBC table at public events.

“We go to youth camps and schools too, all the way up the Fraser Canyon to Boston Bar and Lillooet, out to Agassiz and the Sunshine Valley too,” she noted. “We try to reach everybody from seniors to kids.”

HMBBC started picking fruit off trees too, eliminating a major bear attractant.

“That’s made a huge difference,” Koot said, adding that HMBBC also plans to have ‘Leave no Trace’ decals placed at different trailheads.

She said the local population is pretty bear aware at this point, but when bear sightings occur, Koot and HMBBC people will often go door to door encouraging people in that area to reduce bear attractants.

“We give them advice about freezing food scraps, and that kind of stuff,” she said. “Residents who’ve lived here a few years have gotten really good.”

Koot said one of the biggest problems is Hope’s unsheltered population and their camps.

“They are terrible and they move from one spot to the next, and nobody really seems to be able or willing to address that,” she observed. “Usually cleanup happens because local people post on Facebook that they’re fed up, and they’re going to clean it up.”

The other problem is the many out-of-towners who visit each year. Before COVID, a ‘Friends of the Skagit’ program had been set up that saw HMBBC people setting up at the bottom of the road leading to Skagit Valley Provincial Park and Ross Lake, stopping cars on Friday afternoons to give them a garbage bag, a brochure and a speech on taking their trash with them when they leave.

“People have the idea that because that road is considered to be a highway, you can just leave your garbage and it’ll be picked up,” Koot said. “But of course, that’s a little far-fetched right?”

To learn more about being bear aware, or more about what the HMBBC does, visit


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Eric Welsh

About the Author: Eric Welsh

I joined the Chilliwack Progress in 2007, originally hired as a sports reporter.
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