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Port Alice resident hopes bear-proof garbage bins will save bear lives

Brian Grover wants to upgrade trash disposal after 6 bears euthanized in North Island village
A bear sow with a mangled paw in a photo taken on Oct. 12, 2021 after trying to get inside a dumpster in front of Forest Grove apartments. The sow had to be put down and the cubs were captured and slated for rehabilitation. (Brian Grover photo)

Port Alice resident Brian Grover is very frustrated about the bear euthanizations that have been happening in Port Alice.

He has made it his personal mission to prevent them from happening in the future by raising awareness and promoting the use of bear-resistant garbage bins, as well as bringing to light fund-raising options.

Grover began delving into the bear cause because he wanted to do something so the bears would stop being euthanized.

“(It’s) something that’s entirely preventable and it just keeps repeating every year and it’s ridiculous and it needs to stop,” he said.

Five bears were euthanized last year. Three more were relocated, with one of those coming back that had to be euthanized, making for a total of six bears being put down.

Grover hopes to raise anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 through crowd-sourced funding, such as GoFundMe or Kickstarter. Because the village itself cannot engage in a fundraiser, Grover believes he would have to form a non-profit society, temporarily take over ownership of the dumpsters, then give them back to the village once they are remediated.

Grover has talked to Port Alice village council, and he feels they were “kind of on page to do it.”

However, to do so would require a letter of support from village and some estimates for bin remediation and replacement in order for him to be able to make an appeal. The village, so far, has not responded to his request and declined to comment on the bear euthanization problems.

Grover has also approached Orach Enterprises and North Island Waste Management, the owners and managers of the bins in Port Alice, offering them “free money” from crowd-sourced funding for new bins. They were not interested, though they did attempt some remediation of the bins they currently own.

According to Grover, that was an improvement, but only partially successful. The bins have been reinforced at the corners so a bear cannot bend the lid open, but they’re closed with a simple hook that could be relatively easy for a bear to remove.

Grover has considered approaching physicians in Campbell River to get them to collectively sponsor one dumpster with all their names engraved on it. He’s also contemplated approaching companies like Save On Foods to sponsor bins, and he says he has the support of people in the community that have contacted him privately. He confirmed about five people so far are interested in donating to the cause.

Sometimes the simplest solution might be the most expedient one, at least for the time being. A resident in Grover’s strata chained up the lid to one of their dumpsters and that has effectively kept the bears out. People were able to drop their garbage in from the locking hatch at the side. He noted the hatches need ” some lubrication and maintenance, but it’s completely workable.”

Grover considers the killing of bears as something that the village of Port Alice has unfortunately become accustomed to.

“Killing bears every year, it’s just a part of how we live, right? To me that’s unacceptable and—to anybody thinking of moving here—I think that’s unacceptable too.”

— Debra Lynn, special to the North Island Gazette

READ MORE: Northern B.C. communities among top 5 spots where black bears are killed most

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Black Press Media Staff

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