Neighbours square off in legal fight after a bear breaks a fence

May 4 2023, 6:09 pm

Two neighbours took a not-so-neighbourly dispute to court after a bear broke a fence.

Both neighbours involved in the case own adjacent properties, and sometime in November 2021, a bear broke the fence between their yards, and both sides pointed fingers at the other for responsibility.

Details of the case come from a small claims case at the BC Civil Resolution Tribunal. References to municipal bylaws suggest the incident took place in Port Coquitlam, BC.

Jun Xue filed a claim against Su Quan Ma, suggesting that Ma “negligently left her garbage bins unlocked in her backyard,” which Xue claims attracted the bear.

Xue wanted Ma to pay him $1,050 to repair the broken fence and $525 to build a new one and to “prevent her tenants from trespassing on his property.”

Ma, on the other hand, suggests that Xue’s backyard blueberry plant attracted the bear and that his dog startled it, causing it to fall and break through the fence.

Tribunal documents suggest that it’s undisputed that a bear broke two panels of the fence between both backyards.

Ma admitted that her garbage bins were unlocked when the fence broke but denied that that is what ended up attracting the bear, pointing to the blueberry plant in Xue’s backyard. Xue claimed the blueberry plant and fruits were “long gone” before the bear incident.

“She says there have been bears wandering through her backyard for the past ten years and they have never broken her fence before.”

The tribunal member overseeing the case seemed to side with Xue in suggesting that Ma’s unlocked garbage bins attracted the bear after the tribunal found it “more likely than not that the plant would not have been bearing fruit in November.”

The tribunal also found that it was more than likely that the fence was on Ma’s property, so Xue wasn’t even responsible for the cost of repairing it.

Ultimately, no damages were awarded in the case besides the damage the bear caused to the fence.

Amir AliAmir Ali

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