Kluane Lake by the Slims River area in Kluane National Park. (Chris Windeyer/Yukon News)

Kluane National Park officials kill bear that raided research camp

Area remains closed to park visitors

A bear was killed by Parks Canada rangers in Kluane National Park June 27 after rampaging through a research camp in the Slims River area.

The research camp was a long-term facility located about 30 kilometres into the icefields. Researchers are studying glaciers in the area.

The camp was not occupied when the bear came through, said Craig McKinnon, resource conservation manager for the park. Researchers had gone out for the day June 25 and when they returned, he said, they found their tents flattened and food and gear torn apart.

Recognizing bear activity, the crew cleaned up the area as best they could, called for a helicopter and left the area, McKinnon said. They alerted park officers the next day. On June 27 park rangers tracked and killed the bear, which was moving away from the camp area, he said.

“As a result of this incident, Parks Canada has made the difficult decision to euthanize the bear,” Parks Canada said in a June 28 press release. “Bears that have been conditioned to human food lose their natural wariness of humans, can associate human structures with food, and therefore pose a serious danger to the public.”

The bear was a male grizzly. Teeth and paw prints of the slain animal matched those at the camp site, said McKinnon. A complete necropsy has been scheduled.

Bear interactions have been high in the Yukon over the last few months, resulting in the deaths of half a dozen animals in the territory. Many of these interactions have been the result of bears becoming used to human food.

McKinnon said he didn’t feel that was the case with this bear, and that the incident was “opportunistic” on the bear’s part.

“He just came along, saw the bright yellow tents, went to investigate, curious, like any other animal,” he said. “Unfortunately, he received a food reward.”

Several high-profile bear attacks have occurred in Alaska during recent weeks.

The area remains closed as a precaution. Entering a closed section of the park without permission can result in a fine of up to $25,000.

Contact Lori Garrison at lori.garrison@yukon-news.com

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