A family of grizzlies that wandered into Whitehorse’s Granger subdivision were guided out of the city yesterday by conservation officers and a little bit of extra help.
When the sow and her two cubs were spotted on Hamilton Boulevard just past the Big Way around 9 a.m. two trained protectors just happened to be in the area to offer a helping hand. A pair of karelian dogs were in Whitehorse yesterday as part of work the city is doing to identify bear attractants around town.
They’d also been in Carcross last week conditioning bears there to stay away from town.
The dogs are trained at the Wind River institute in B.C. They’re used to teach bears to move away from human voices, vehicles, or in this case, barking.
“While they were here it was just timely that we were able to call them and say can you help us with this,” said Kris Gustafson, director of conservation officer services.
Gustafson said he believes the same bears had been chased away from town last year with dogs. “Today when they were exposed to the dogs again and to the sound of the human voice yelling they moved away again.”
Gustafson said dogs have advantages over humans when it comes to managing bears.
“They can detect the bear without having to actually see it. Based on the strength of the scents and those sort of factors the dog can assess where the bear is,” he said.
“Sometimes with bears we may scare them away and they may just circle behind us. You can fool us, but you couldn’t fool the dog. The dog would recognize immediately what was going on just because of the scent.”
It took a couple of hours to herd the bears away from people, first to the Mount McIntyre trails, and finally to a wooded area near Fish Lake.
Help was also on hand from the RCMP and Environment Yukon’s park officers.