07/16/2013 03:34 EDT | Updated 09/15/2013 05:12 EDT

Blueberry-eating bears endangered by Coquitlam crowds

Conservation officers are telling people to stay away from a popular hiking area in Coquitlam where bears have been coming out of the woods to snack on crops at nearby blueberry farms.

But while a sign in the area warns of "extreme bear activity," locals say it is the carloads of people coming by to watch the bears that are the real problem.

"It's a nightmare," said Sonja Krzus, who has lived in the area for 30 years.

"I've seen some of the craziest things possible. People within metres of bears, to get that better shot. Whistling, calling, food. It's unbelievable. There's no bottom to the stupid pit."

Blueberry farmer Sid Kwantes says has seen people trying to snap pictures of the bears next to their children.

"They think it's a petting zoo," Kwantes said. "We had an incident a year or so ago where people dropped off salmon down the road for bears ... all kinds of silly stuff."

Once bears lose their fear of people, they become a danger in residential areas and are often shot and killed by conservation officers.

"When you see this story please stay away," Kwantes said. "Because a habituated bear is a dead bear."